Brilliant yellow leaves
Crisp dry breeze, darkening blue sky
Sets windows with light
Tree branches bare now
Cold air, gusty winds, rain comes
Brings the holidays
Every year, there is a day in late August, or sometimes not until September, when Autumn arrives. I know that Autumn officially begins on the Autumn equinox, but that is just a calendar date. Here in the Bay Area, the seasons have their own timetable. There are many who say there are no seasons here in California. These people are usually transplants from the East Coast, where the seasons blatantly announce their arrival. Our seasons are more subtle; they ease up on us, with a slight shift in temper-ature, drier air, a change in the wind. One must be attuned in order to notice this shift.
So back to Autumn. On that day, which is different every year, I feel a change. To be sure, the temperature is the same as yesterday, the sky is just as blue, but there is a shift nonetheless. First of all, the dampness of the morning fog gives way to a drier air, the fog does not come in that afternoon to obscure the cloudless blue sky, and there is a dry, cool breeze. In the garden, the tomato plants are beginning to show signs of wear, the bulbs have dried up and returned to the soil, and the ground is covered with leaf litter. Now tomorrow may be a summer day again, with damp fog, and the tomato plants will produce long into November or December, but the shift has been felt nonetheless and Autumn will soon be fully upon us.
Thus too, does Winter start. This year, it started right on schedule, with a welcomed day of rain on the first week-end in November. Gray skies, rain, cooler temperatures…I put on a long sleeved shirt and a jacket and took a long walk in the lightly falling rain.That morning I had to turn on the furnace. Sunny days followed but today there is rain again. And the temperatures have remained cool. The garden is but a shadow of its summer self; all the produce is preserved and put away. We search for the few remaining tomatoes that are not blemished by the rain, perhaps a wayward potato, and resign ourselves to the perennial winter vegetables: chard and kale. Winter is upon us. May it be a wet one!
On Education and Diversity
We teach our students about the seasons. We read books to them. Autumn is leaves that turn colors and fall. It is cooler weather. Winter is snow and ice. Spring is rain and new life, both fauna and flora. And summer is hot beach weather. The stores here reinforce those lessons with holiday displays in December that feature snowmen and sleigh rides. So too, do the ubiquitous holiday movies for children.
I taught perhaps 600 students during my career. And only a handful came from a state or country where such seasons occurred. Many were from tropical areas; the others were born and raised in the Bay Area. So the lessons on seasons remained an academic exercise, perpetuated not only at school but also commercially, such as in the holiday displays in December and ads on television. Many of my students had never seen snow. But the images remain imprinted on us. I love these images, I still think of Thanksgiving as a sleigh ride over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, even as I have long since learned that even in the Midwest and on the East coast, it is not usually snowing at Thanksgiving.
There is nothing wrong with ritualizing or idealizing our view of the world, as long as we are aware of the reality as well and teach our students about the equatorial areas as well as the North pole, as long as we acknowledge customs and traditions that have emerged in those areas to celebrate seasons and holidays. Tradition and broadening horizons both have their place.
A Passing Storm
Low-floating, moist-laden billowing clouds
Above a landscape thirsting for moisture,
All is hope and expectation.
People and plants stare and wait.
Thunder follows flashes of lightning,
A sudden wind begins to blow,
A downpour follows in its wake,
A sigh of relief wells and spreads.
Flashes and rumble quickly subside,
The rush of wind becomes a whisper,
The darkened sky now gradually lightens
And the rain sings its pitter-patter.
Hours of soothing steady raindrops
Leave the landscape quenched and fresh,
Leave human beings relieved and thankful,
Assured that all's well with the world.
An Epigram a Day:
See life for what it is and not for what you would have it be.
Ultimately, all is neither meaningful nor meaningless.It just is!
The past and the future are wedded in memory and hope.
Change need not disrupt and disruption need not change.
Most humans are blades of grass blowing in the wind.