Seasons are very different in each of the places I have lived. In South Texas, a short spring quickly stretches into a long, hot, heavy summer, followed by a pleasant fall and mild winter. In both Israel and Northern California I experienced Mediterranean Climates with gorgeously blooming springs, dry rainless summers, mild falls and chilly wet winters. Whether in the Galilee or Northern California the fields are brown (or as I learned to say in California, “golden”) in summer and green in winter.
Now in the Northeastern US, I finally get to experience the much-vaunted “four seasons,” from lovely long-awaited spring to deeply green warm summer, from fall blazing with color to really cold winters, bare tree limbs covered in snow.
Growing up, the bulletin boards in my South Texas elementary classrooms oddly reflected the seasons of New England rather than the hot local climate. Never having seen snow falling, I assumed that snowflakes were actually as large as the doily-sized paper ones we cut out to hang on the walls each December. In a related way, celebrating the Jewish holidays outside of a balmy Mediterranean climate can seem quite out of sync, as when we celebrate the New Year of Trees while there is snow on the ground or the Passover Spring Festival while it still feels like winter.
In some ways we are also out of touch with our local seasons, when our diets stay the same all year or we wear a sweater in summer to ward off the air-conditioned chill. Modern conveniences have made the transitions of our year more comfortable, but there is also much to be gained–for ourselves and our environment–from living and eating in greater harmony with the seasons. There is an art and a spiritual practice to fully savoring each season with its own textures, holidays, foods, and outdoor experiences.
Consider and Comment: What are seasons like where you live? How do you live fully in each season? What are your favorite pleasures and greatest challenges of the season you’e experiencing right now?
Featured Photo: Autumn Foliage in Westchester, New York, JHD
Read aRabbi Rachel Barenblat (the Velveteen Rabbi)’s experience of Stick Season in New England, or return to the Gateway of Seasons.