Monday, October 3, 2011

Shoulder seasons

I always complained about Central Oregon's lack of shoulder seasons. For the five years I lived there, spring and fall for me were just brief blips between winter and summer.

While I did eventually come to appreciate the muted high-desert palette of sage on gray on dust on moss, I never got over missing the intensity of color where I'm from, the wetter side of Oregon. I missed Portland's spring and fall. I've previously written here about the glory of springtime in the south. Flowers explode everywhere - it's an assault of color and fragrance. My yard in the springtime includes flowering bradford pears, dogwoods, wisteria, Carolina jessamine, honeysuckle and gardenias. Every time you turn around, something else is blooming. Honestly, even Portland and the Willamette Valley is muted in comparison with the south; for the most part, it's just a place where green congregates; forest on kelly on fern on envy on chartreuse.

The hiccup of autumn in Central Oregon was never anything to look forward to. After the glory of blue-skyed summers and their clear mountain lakes, summers of blessed, blessed dry heat, I wanted none of it. All fall did was remind you that winter was coming for you. October's frigid mornings and gray skies were winter's way of saying, "Get your ice scraper ready bitch. I'm coming for you."

Contrast that with the relief I feel now that summer is over. It's physical. Goosebumps with each turning leaf. When I pulled my first sweater out of its summer storage (I'd never lived in a place where you actually store your sweaters all summer. In Oregon, you face at least a handful of chilly days and evenings even in August.) we cried and hugged like old friends reuniting at an airport - I swear I heard violins playing in the distance. I don't even want to admit what I did when I wore boots for the first time this fall - it's simply indecent.

One thing about fall in South Carolina that's strange for me, that feels wrong for the season at hand, is that I'm opening up the house for the first time in months. Doors and windows, everything's open. No more mornings where you open the door to go outside and the air is hot and moist, like dog breath. After a long summer of sprinting from one air conditioned space to another, of keeping shades drawn against the heat, I've been throwing open all the doors and windows, letting a breeze blow through the house for the first time in months. It feels like spring.

So I did some spring cleaning. Starting with brushing the dogs.

Yeah, so that happened.