Blog Home Page

The Turn of the Wheel

A new year. I wonder why they decided to start a new year right in the middle of winter? It would make more sense to have a brand-new year start at the beginning of spring, IMO. That’s when everything feels new. That’s when the light changes and things are budding and one has a new sense of life and possibilities after the darkness of winter.

A friend of mine posted a sped-up film clip of an entire “day” in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the middle of winter. Their whole solar day lasts about 3.5 hours, from sunrise to sunset, and the sun never gets very high in the sky. I’ve never lived farther north than Manhattan, so that whole concept is amazing to me, and it’s led me to wonder how much our natural surroundings, the light and the temperature, affects us. I grew up in New Orleans, which basically has nine months of heat and humidity and then three months of yucky cold rain. Then I lived in New York, where to me it felt like there was six months of wretched cold, a month of glorious spring, almost three months of unbearable heat, and then two months where all the trees lost their leaves. When there was snow in the winter, it was the most beautiful thing ever, coating everything, making it all look clean and new, silencing so much of the ambient noise of the city. But the summers were hard, with the buildings and streets soaking up heat all day and releasing it all night.

When we decided to find a new place to live, when my kids were little, we did research for about a year to find the best place. We both worked at home, so could move pretty much anywhere. We stayed on the east coast, because our work came out of NY and we had family in DC. I wanted four real seasons, three months of each, and I didn’t want to be too far inland, because I get claustrophobic if I’m too far away from large water. So we settled on North Carolina. It really does have four even seasons. The summer is pretty hot, but I know that the heat will break in late September. The winter is pretty cold, but spring comes in March. The spring is really long and incredibly beautiful–every day I go outside and walk around the yard or the state park and see all the life bursting out everywhere. It uplifts my soul and fills me with hope and promise. And the autumns are everything an autumn should be: crisp, lots of color on the trees, a gradual shutting down and putting-to-bed of nature. I see the deers’ coats changing from summer red to winter brown. A lot of greenery dies down and I can see through the trees, see my neighbors’ houses, which I can’t really see in the summertime. I feel like cooking and baking.

I like paying attention to all that. I live in a modern, technological world, with appliances and gadgets and email and the interwebz. I can get stuck inside of it, sometimes. So I try to get outside every day, try to observe something outside every day. It makes me feel tied to the earth, more intensely alive. It makes time slow down a little bit. It seems important.

What effect does nature have on you?

7 Responses to “The Turn of the Wheel”

  1. Sara Akl says:

    I’ve always lived in the city Alexandria, in Egypt, by the sea.
    Our summers are long and mostly hot but rarely uncomfortable. There is always the cold breeze that comes from the sea side that makes it moderate. Spring is short but beautiful. Winters are also short and never too cold. The rainy days sort of fills the streets with joy. When I walk outside everything looks as if washed and there is a fresh water smell in the air.
    Autumn is my favorite season. It’s this peaceful time of the year when the weather is just perfect and the trees are golden.
    Alexandria is the closest thing that i’ve experienced to a town. It has the busy city life but also the quiet town-like atmosphere and the serene sea always beautiful. I can’t imagine ever living away from the sea, it’s a part of me, and it what makes me feel closer to nature, away from the technological world that often depresses me.

  2. Catherine says:

    I’m from New Zealand, so for us the new year begins in summer. It always confused me as a child when reading American stories about school starting and ending in the middle of the year. Summer was always in the wrong place in them. XD

  3. Ashleigh says:

    I’ve always live in the south-east in England, so our summers are not too hot, springs are very rainy and the weather is always unpredictable- you end up taking a raincoat and sunhat everywhere for 3 months! The winter is just cold and windy, and if we get any snow, the whole country comes to a stand-still. My favourite time of year is autumn, partly because that’s when my birthday is, but mostly because I love the fact that it’s warm and the colours everywhere are warm, the air is always fresh adn everywhere you look is some sort of wildlife, it’s truly wonderful.

  4. hollie says:

    i live in scotland and our summer can change alot as last year it rained for most of it and even this month it has been really sunny and warm but today we have major snow storms but i like it

  5. nikki says:

    I live in Oregon. We have a never-ending winter, an extremely short spring, a hot summer filled with thunderstorms, and a wet, depressing autumn. Autumn and winter meld together and you can’t wait for spring, but when it gets here, it’s brief. You barely see the beautiful colors before it’s all green. Spring is so full of life, I really wished it lasted longer here. However, the thunderstorms in summer make up for it. You can sit outside and watch and listen for hours. The electricity in the air vibrates against your skin and it’s the only time it’s even remotely humid here. The lightning is so beautiful. Then again, this might be the reason why we have the most forest fires…

  6. diane says:

    North Carolina is one of my absolute favorite states in the US. I currently live in “sunny” Southern California and the seasonal change is excruciatingly boring, IMO. Summer is extremely hot and lasts for far too long. We experience about 6 months of temps between 78-90 that pass for a both spring and autumn. When summer comes it brings about 3 months of 90-110 temps, finally in cools off in November. December brings a bit of a chill with temps falling into the 60’s, but January brings a strange twist with temps up to the 80’s. The worst part is that there is no change of color…so cal is naturally a desert so everything is bland and beige, then we have added tons of evergreens and irrigated them drastically. So the base is beige and the green is never changing.
    I would love to move to North Carolina, I have lived there briefly, and it is the best experience of the seasons, though Virginia is a close second.

  7. Kristi Stern says:

    I live in Northern Michigan and we have four seasons. Most last about 3 months. Our spring is beautiful with everything waking up after our long winters (which usually are cold and snowy) For some reason, Winter always seems the longest! Our summers are generally hot and sunny and last about 3 months and then my favorite season, Fall! I wish Fall would last longer. We live out in the woods and it is so gorgeous in the fall with the leaves changing and the fall flowers in bloom. I love the smell and the feel of the air, I wish it would last forever but we all know that can’t happen.
    I’d love to travel to Ireland and Scotland. That is my heritage. I’d love to visit family roots there and soak up the atmosphere… maybe someday!

Leave a Reply