After moving to Georgia, I was baffled by all the people who asked me how I could live in a climate that didn’t get four seasons. My aunt lives in the tropics of Northern Australia, so I understood (at least in theory) the concept of wet and dry seasons instead of the four annual quadrants of Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn; but I also knew that Georgia isn’t the tropics. We had four seasons – maybe they didn’t look the same as the seasons in which I had grown up, but they were there. That was all until I moved to the mid-west.
I am slowly realizing that my confusion was because, weather wise, Northern BC and Georgia are very similar. One would think that they are polar opposites, when in reality they are actually mirror images. Both are ruled by a single seasonal dictator which may tactically recede in strength for a period of time, but will never completely relinquish their climatological sovereignty. That BC frost in July or the two days of sweat and humidity during a Georgia February is just a reminder that the seasonal “godfather” is always in charge, even when you can’t see him. While we may look at a calendar and tell our children we are in four different seasons, the truth is that there are only two. In the South it is either Summer or Not Summer,while in Northern Canada the distinction is Winter or Not.
Here in Saint Louis, I have, for the first time in my life, truly experienced four seasons. Summer and Winter rule their months with an equally fierce strength. Even in the mildest winter, it is still most definitely winter. I never need a light sweater “just in case” in August like I did in my childhood, nor do I keep a couple of winter capris in my wardrobe year round as I did in Georgia. The spring and the fall here are their own identity, marked less by the color of the vegetation and more by the turmoil of the weather. It is as if a meteorological coup is staged twice each year, and neither summer nor winter loses their throne without a vicious fight. One day the sky is so clear I would have thought it digitally enhanced if seen in a film, and the temperature is a chilly 68. The next it is 84 degrees and the wind and rain are driving so hard against my window I can’t hear the television. Eventually one season is driven back into exile and the victor rules with an iron fist for a few months before the climate revolution rises again.
This week summer is expending his last resources as he realizes he is once again a bridge too far into the year, and the forecast is for a steep and definitive drop in temperatures later in the week. The warmth of late fall, rather than the fresh warmth of spring, or the fierce heat of summer, has the tepid, dreary quality of an aging starlet trying too hard. The cool snap in the air on Friday will carry with it the freshness that some will call fall. I, on the other hand, have begun to think of it as regime change.