Life is a seasonal symphony. With the beginning of March, our thoughts turn to the subtle transformation happening in our natural environment. With the spring equinox on the twenty-first, a seasonal shift will occur as daylight begins to increase, giving us longer days and temperatures that will become gradually warmer. As we let go of the winter chill, a warmer climate is setting in. With the summer solstice in June, spring gives way to summer, and we have the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, for that one day. Moving toward the autumn equinox in September, daylight wanes to the shortest day of the year in December, and the cycle repeats itself.
In so many regions of the country and the world, the face of nature changes drastically in the never-ending transition from spring to summer to autumn and winter—from lush and green, to red, orange and yellow and finally, brown. The exception, of course, takes place in the mountains. Despite cold, even frigid, temperatures, the landscape remains splendidly (ever) green, except for the occasional glorious stand of Aspen interspersed among the pines, their leaves turning bright shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall and dotting the mountain scenery like shimmering lights before falling to the ground. By January, most mountain ranges north of the equator are buried in a perpetual mantle of glistening white, which is exactly what skiers and snowboarders want! Fresh powder! The seasonal symphony of life continues its song.
The four seasons have always been associated with the eternal cycle of life. They give us something new to reflect upon, and with those thoughts, create meaning and a prevailing mood for that time of year. With the shorter days, autumn ushers in brisk, chilly mornings and evenings, as winter offers us a cold, bare landscape beneath bright sunlight—a good time for introspection. Spring is the season of rebirth and new possibilities, while summer is the period of long, hot days during which time those possibilities can fully blossom. Just like the changing seasons, our lives are also cyclical. Each new phase of the year can connect us closer to the Earth’s cycles as it brings new gifts and experiences to our lives, and as a result, new thought patterns.
The Maya and Inca Indians, and many other ancient cultures, developed complex systems for understanding the seasonal shifts. Tracking the rising and setting points of the sun was the key to their survival. These societies revolved around what they observed in the sky, but it was not until centuries later that the science behind the seasons was unraveled. Copernicus radically changed the world’s concept of astronomy in the sixteenth century when he proposed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our solar system. With the earth spinning on an axis that is tilted as it orbits the sun, different hemispheres are exposed to different amounts of sunlight throughout the year, and this gives us seasons.
There is something so reassuring in the repeated refrains of nature, to know that dawn comes after night, spring after winter, etc. So whichever season is a favorite, remember that it takes all four to complete the cycle, just as it takes all the seasonal chords of life’s symphony to fulfill the life cycle.
Editorial by Christine Schlichte