Life in a four-season environment can be a humbling experience. Ohio is such an environment, where there is a very real chance that you may feel the touch of winter, spring, summer, and fall in a single day. Over the course of an entire year, it is a guarantee.
Our coexistence with nature's annual phases of change is a blessing. It is a lesson on stillness and observation, and a reminder that all things must pass. But we have to be there for it. We must show up.
Each year seems a new opportunity to be present with the changes that come and go seemingly too quickly, and to appreciate the unique state of our environment at any given time. We tend to enter into the cycle in the throes of a deep freeze; we see the local flora & fauna slowly come to life, grow, and flourish before retreating in a cherished (and currently ongoing) display of autumnal glory.
The distinctive presence of all four seasons is, without a doubt, the greatest joy of living where we do. If not for the seasons, Ohio might be (ok, would be) humdrum. But because of the seasons, we are ecologically rich. Even so, as an Ohioan it is all too easy to get out of your car, bundled in thirteen layers, after having navigated brutally & very frightening snowy roads, vowing to never leave your house again.
We have all cursed the snow. But hear us out. There is beauty to be found in it all. Our feeling is that a little observation goes a very long way.
The sky alone is seasonally contingent: migratory patterns play out, gifting us with glimpses of a vast array of species to appreciate; the sun, the moon, and the stars reveal themselves to us in different configurations; the clouds offer us snow and rain, and sometimes disappear altogether. This year, it rained on all but one day in June, giving way to two full months of drought in July and August.
There is more change, yet, on the ground. The trails we hike scarcely resemble themselves from one season to the next. The trees are constantly transforming. They are obvious, and they deserve our gratitude unabated.
Produce. Ah, produce. We pull fruits and vegetables from the earth and from branches, sustaining ourselves on a bounty only possible at a specific time & in a specific place. (Seriously, seasonal, local eating will transform your perspective on our food landscape. It will probably transform your health, too, but that's for another post.) The animals around us forage & hunt, rear their young, and plan for the seasons long before we do—burying foodstuffs, growing a winter coat, doing that magic thing they do.
But what about us? Where do we fit?
Ideally, as stewards of this unbelievably complex & dynamic environment. If all of the animals around us are observing & adapting to the changes ongoing, should we not, as well? The human race is a part of the environment, not its master. There is no us and them. We are codependent from the moment we arrive in the world. And the seasons—with all of their unpredictable, volatile, and beautiful ways—should be a reminder of that.
Let us observe. Let us be still. Let us learn from the seasons; moving and growing and dying together, but always always always making way for the next.