Note: Although I wrote this piece for The Sun one year ago, it is appropriate for this time of year. Any year. —Pete
I went out for my usual early morning walk recently and took in a gorgeous autumn spectacle. A crystal blue sky ruled over a landscape bursting with fall colors: purple dogwoods, brilliant orange maples, deep red oaks, and golden yellow poplars.
The day was a bit chilly, just enough to remind me that colder days are coming, but not so cold as to make a brisk walk uncomfortable.
As if on cue, I looked up at one point and saw the familiar “V” formation of geese headed south. I waved, and they honked as they passed overhead.
Some people love living in a place where sunshine and warmth abound year-round. Some folks like cool weather and would prefer the temperature never got above 70. Others — the “snowbirds” — choose to live in a temperate climate but migrate south in the winter to avoid the winter cold.
Me, I love all four seasons.
One of the things I find appealing about living in Central Kentucky is the climate. Neither our summers nor winters are too extreme. We have something for everyone, from hot sunny days for fun in the sun to snowy periods for those more inclined to winter activities.
Nothing beats the changing seasons for me. I was reminded of this last Sunday as my wife and I took down and put away our Halloween decorations and began planning for Christmas. In between are the fall- and Thanksgiving-themed things around the house.
There is something about moving from one season to the next that I find inspiring. I guess I’ve always been a seeker of novelty. The transitions from season to season are things I look forward to every year.
The first snowfall of winter was magical to me as a child — and it still is. The transformation of the landscape to a white wonderland is amazing. Have you ever noticed that everything looks beautiful under fresh snowfall? Even a junkyard becomes a masterpiece when frosted in a layer of snow. The air feels clean and fresh. The world gets quieter as the blanket of snow muffles sounds.
The arrival of spring is heralded by nature’s re-awakening: the emergence of tulips and daffodils, the return of early morning songbirds, and the chorus of peepers at nightfall. And of course, warmer temperatures.
The transition from spring to summer is usually more gradual, sometimes barely noticeable. But as the days grow longer and the sun rises ever higher above the horizon, heat and humidity are sure to follow. Although it can get quite uncomfortable in these parts during the summer, I truly love it. Besides all the outdoor activities one can do, I think the best parts of summer are the evenings. I love to get out and walk after dark on a warm summer evening.
And this brings me back to the start of autumn. This is probably my favorite transition. Though the shortening hours of sunlight and cooler temperatures do tend to bring a sense of melancholy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve learned to embrace it.
I’ve heard it said that the secret of happiness is to learn to enjoy one’s present circumstances, no matter what they may be. I think that’s right.
The looming threat to all this is, of course, global climate change. One of the critical effects of our changing climate is a trend toward more extreme and unpredictable weather. We are already seeing these effects, and they will only worsen in the coming years. Unless humanity can get it under control, climate change threatens to disrupt the progression of seasons in temperate climates such as ours to the point of losing our seasons as we know them.
We must do something — and quickly.
But for now, I will enjoy the autumn in Winchester. And then winter, spring, and summer. The snowbirds can have their sunny, warm Florida winters. I’ll take all four of my Kentucky seasons, thank you very much.
This article appeared in The Winchester Sun on Thursday, November 5, 2020.