Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Five Seasons

The day after Labor Day in the United States begins autumn. No, not by the calendar, but by the way we live our lives. There are actually five seasons in much of the US:

Labor Day (the first Monday in September) to Election Day (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November) is autumn. Back to school time, the World Series, the beginning of football season, lots of yard work, and Halloween mark this season.

Election Day to New Year's Day is the holiday season. Religious holidays, the heart of football season, the beginning of basketball and hockey, and some family time are the hall marks of holiday season.

New Year's Day to Easter is winter. For those of us from Snow Belt cities, this is the season of bad driving but not too much road work. It is also the season that reminds me of a quote from Raymond Chandler's story "Red Wind," which was referring to quite different atmospheric conditions:

On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.

Easter to Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) is spring. Hope and contrition, an opportunity for the Cubs to be in contention, eating lots of chocolate while worrying about fitting into your swimming suit, and all the other contradictions of our modern world come into play in the spring.

Memorial Day to Labor Day is summer, no matter what the calendar reads.

I guess I'm writing this post as an elegy to the summer of 2008, but also to suggest that planning library displays and events around the REAL seasons instead of the meteorological ones may be a way of connecting to your community. (It's a stretch but I'm writing this on company time and I had to figure out how to apply these thoughts to libraries, OK?)


Alice said...

I love it. And I can say that now that I live in New England, I get the full glory of the seasons that you learn about from textbooks when you live or grow up other places.

We northerners (ack, can you believe I am describing myself as such?) love ALL the seasons, especially the ones that feature ice cream.

Patricia Martin said...

Here, here! And a fond farewell to one of the nicest summers on record.

Steve said...

This is a very yankee perspective. In other parts of the country things are very different. In the south winter doesn't last till Easter, not by a long shot, and spring doesn't last till Memorial Day either.

Beware of saying "the way we live our lives" when the "we" in that phrase excludes a large part of your readership.