Ozark Seasons

One day recently, I glanced out the window and thought it was snowing. It wasn’t, of course, but the air was full of leaves that had let go of their mother trees after a rare October hard freeze. The heavy leaf shower didn’t last long, but ever since, leaves have drifted down, and I’ve been raking.

Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons: sweater weather, KC football, my birthday month, wood smoke, chili. The fall colors, crimson and pumpkin and gold, are glorious, especially when sunshine fills the leaves.

Then comes winter, and I recently learned a new word that may resonate with some of you. Wintercearig (pronounced ‘win ter seer ig’ among other ways) is an Old English word that means a sadness equal to the cold of winter. Some think of winter sadness as having the blues. Others see it as a feeling elders get—a sorrow resulting from so many years of living.

Some folks dread those winter days and all the snow, but in the Ozarks we don’t get that much snow. We just built that up in our minds. I’ve given up shoveling my drive on the three days it may need it since I’m not sledding anywhere on snowy days, and the snow will melt soon enough. There’s nothing I need to do that can’t be rescheduled. If I’m snowed in, that’s an excuse to sit by the fire with a cup of tea and read for pleasure.

Now spring is a season I’ve grown to love. I always have early crocus, and watching trees bud and flowers come to life brings me hope. I walk this little acre looking for spring. I count the number of purple iris that open on each late April day. By the end of that month, I’ve carried house plants to the screened-in back porch. In mid-May, the iris are spent, and I’ve made the screened porch my go-to reading place.

In summer, walking the neighborhood has to be done first thing, even before breakfast, to beat the heat and humidity. Summer’s actually my least favorite season because mosquitoes and chiggers love me to death. If I’m outside in the yard, I spray myself with repellent and wear citronella bracelets and even a mosquito net over my head, and still I get bitten.

You can’t set your calendar by our Ozark seasons since we may have an early spring or a late summer or a long winter. But those four divisions of seasons aren’t too far off the three-month mark, and they all go by so fast. We’re digging out sandals one day, then turn around and look for long johns.

It seems a season has just begun, and then presto! the next season takes over. The thing is, we have to find joy in every day, no matter the season, no matter the weather, no matter the insect bites.