Monday, January 15, 2007


I grew up in Rhode Island. There were four seasons every year, each distinct.

Winter was fun at first. It came right before Christmas, and we even had snow at Christmas sometimes. We'd love those first snows... sledding, snowmen, snow angels. I'd even be eager to shovel the driveway at first. But winter in Rhode Island, there by the ocean with its temperature raising effects, was mostly grey and slushy. Those beautiful snow blankets would come, yes, but on their heels would come ever-so-slightly warmer weather, which would start to melt the snow. Then the cold would come and a layer of ice would form on top of the snow, then melting, then freezing, until it was all a big mess of icy slushy dirty snow spraying everywhere from under your car wheels. And just so very much (heavy) work. I got pretty depressed from January to March, and I always got my worst grades in the third quarter. It wasn't until I took a psychology class in high school and learned about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that I recognized what was going on. There was not a lot of sun from December through March. After that I'd make a point to study sitting by a window, and it helped.

Spring was a joy, a relief. It was lovely and bright, with pale green leaves everywhere and daffodils growing in everyone's yard; still a little nippy, but usually sunny... a promise of summer to come. I loved to cut branches of pussy willow and rub their softness against my upper lip. School filled my days, but the sun made things manageable again.

Summer was warm, but rarely hot. We spent our days barefoot, wearing our soles thick on pavement and the rocks at the little beach we visited as often as possible. I can still feel the crunchiness of my skin after swimming in the ocean, the smell of seaweed in my hair, the sand between my bathing suited bottom and the vinyl seat of our station wagon. Every morning I awoke to the birds singing, a sound I only heard in the months when it was warm enough to leave the windows open all night. Sometimes we'd get really lucky and one would build a nest in the Christmas tree my parents had planted right outside one of my bedroom windows. We'd peer down into the branches from my second floor window to see if the eggs had hatched, and then watched as the babies grew. In the evening my brother and I would catch fireflies and put them by our beds in glass jars with holes poked through the metal lids. I'd ride my bike around the neighborhood and pick wild blackberries in abandoned lots. Our Labor Day party would come, and then, back to school.

But oh how lovely the autumn was. As hopeful as spring was, and as magical as summer was, the fall was a time of pure beauty. There is a certain blue that the sky gets in Rhode Island in September that I have never seen anywhere else. The slow turning of the colors never ceased to capture me. I would look for the signs each day. Here a yellowing tree, there a blush of red, until an explosion of color surrounded me everywhere I went. Red, yellow, orange, green, with vibrant blue above, pulsing with life. Perhaps the fact that winter's death was coming made it even more unbearably lovely; I did wonder that even then.

And full circle to winter again.

We are Texans now, all of my family. My parents, then my brother, and lastly me, have each moved to Texas. We own homes here. Stephen and I have three little native Texans for children. We no longer have four seasons.

In Texas (at least where we are, in the Austin area) there are two seasons. Central Texans joke that the seasons are "Hot and Really Hot." It's not entirely inaccurate. It is hot here for about 8 months of the year (when high temperatures are 90 or above), and then there's the not so hot time. Occasionally it actually gets genuinely cold. And that's when Central Texans kinda lose their cool (no pun intended).

Here's an Austinite mathematical statement to ponder (and a teaser for tomorrow's post):

Cold + Precipitation = Panic

The Iceman cometh....

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