Thursday, October 9, 2014


If I have a favorite month it would have to be October—for her color, her cooler temperatures, her sunny days—October could have been designed especially for me. And on clear days when the sky is a blue found at no other time of the year, I recall a portion of a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson, of Amherst, Massachusetts, writing in the 19th Century:
   O suns and skies and clouds of June,
   And flowers of June together,
   Ye cannot rival for one hour
   October's bright blue weather;

Autumn’s passing leads to Winter, and I can hear already the moans, groans, and grumbles of those who “hate winter”; can’t stand to live up north all those long, dark, cold months; or who proclaim it to be the ugliest time of the year.

Really? I’ll agree in part—the cold gets to me and I miss the longer hours of daylight. But ugly? I love the pen-and-ink-drawing quality of a winter landscape. Shadows harbor blue tones. Trees reveal their structure. Evergreens stand out against the subtle whites. Winter always makes me think of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost’s famous poem; here it is in its entirety:
Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

I will admit, I’m ready for Spring when everybody else is. Of course I’m thinking of soft breezes, soft sunshine, soft green grass and plants. In reality, Spring in Northeast Indiana brings snow, fog, cloudy days, rain, thawing, mud, and freezing mud. But by April—ah, April, T. S. Eliot’s “cruelest month.”
From The Waste Land, Part I-Burial of the Dead:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

April became the cruelest month for me when my mother died during my sophomore year in high school. Even today, I am vaguely unhappy during April, no matter how many flowers bloom, how gentle the breezes. But the time passes, and May comes with more and more flowers and trees in bloom and bushes putting forth fragrant perfume. And I am solaced.

From John Keats’ poem, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket”
The poetry of earth is never dead:
   When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
   And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the Grasshopper’s--he takes the lead
    In summer luxury,--he has never done
    With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

Summer was always the season when time, for me, ceased to pass. Summer went on forever. Summer never seemed to end. For me that was punishment; I longed for cooler weather, school books, and teachers. (Being an only child meant I had no one to play with. But I managed—I lectured my dolls and made up stories.)
Now that I’m an adult, I distract myself from summer’s too-long visit with enjoyment of my neighbor’s roses, or the lovely shade of the trees surrounding my house.

Seasons have come to mean more to me than merely changes in the landscape and activities to suit the time, temperature, and condition of the sky.
SPRING is a time of new beginnings; a time to sow, or prepare, or plan.
SUMMER is a time of growth, of tending what has been sown, of appreciation for what is growing.
AUTUMN brings harvest, and a time to take one’s ease after the previous work of Spring and Summer.
WINTER allows us rest, when much of life lies dormant, waiting for a new Springtime.
We can experience all the seasons of life—sometimes in one day, or during one project; in our homes, at work, at school; within ourselves, moment to moment.
If you live in other climates and don’t experience the change of seasons as dramatically as we do in Northeastern Indiana, look for signs of your own seasons—they may be more subtle, in color, shape, length—but you’ll find them. Look within. You’ll find them there as well.



  1. I love the seasons. Even in Florida for the winter (where it was chilly and wet as opposed to cold and white), I had a sense of waiting. Not just to come home, but for the definitive change of season. Nice post, Judith.

  2. Waiting--that's a good way to describe the sense of winter--an interim time, never mind the busy-ness of the holidays. Thanks for sharing, Liz.