Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Virginian in Vermont - Seasons

I have been in Vermont now about 18 months, long enough to begin to get a feel for the seasons here. Like Virginia, Vermont has four distinct seasons (maybe five, if you include the few weeks in the spring that it rains and rains that the locals call "mud season".

Four distinct seasons is something I always loved about living in Virginia. I have had friends and family move to places like Florida and out west, where the seasons are not as distinct and for me, I would feel something was missing, a sense of losing track of God's own timing, without them.

That's silly of course, a notion, since much of the world does not have the very visible and tactile sense of changing seasons. But having had it all my life, it would be missed.

The four seasons are a delight, but different here than in Virginia. They run different lengths because we are eleven hours north than my birth state.

So winter comes earlier. We had snow here, capping the mountains with a lacy crown of white, in early October. It's now mid November and the locals, when we are gathered together having coffee in Duchies Store, seem surprised that we have not had a "real" snow yet. My daughter, who moved up here with me in June, thinks the idea of a "real" snow in November is unthinkable.

I remember when my sister moved from South Carolina to Virginia. It took a couple of seasons for her to acclimate to the earlier cold. I feel I have adjusted to the timing, but not the severity yet. It gets downright cold up here. People here just go with it, but I suspect when the digits on the thermometer only have one number in them, which is pretty common in winter, I won't fully adjust.

Snow lingers here. In Virginia, even in the western part of the state where I lived for thirty years or so, it snows, and in a day or few, it's mostly gone. Here, snow does not visit, it moves in. The ground stays covered much of the season in it's blanket of white. And the sky is gray much of the season.

No wonder Vermonters love their spring so much. The growing season is short here, but once the snow melts, the gardens here are glorious. And there are more nurseries per capita here than you can imagine. That 11 hour difference means we're not supposed to plant our gardens till after Memorial Day, but once we do, the who area explodes in gardens and color. It's like nature knows it does not have much time and moves in fast motion. By the end of June, the season and gardens have nearly caught up with Virginia, and for a month or two, the seasons seem in sync.

Except that here, with the exception of this summer, there is far less heat, and far less humidity. I did break down and get a window air conditioner in this, the hottest summer in 53 years in Vermont. I think I used it about a week or two all summer. If there is a perfection in weather, it is the normal Vermont summer. A few days in the 80's, mostly high 70's, and low humidity. Perfection for being out side doing anything.

And fall. Oh my. Again, it comes fast. The colors this year began to change in early September. I love fall in Virginia, but there is a light, probably again the 11 hours north difference, that makes Vermont fall color particularly brilliant. I've now had two falls up here, and they are amazing, but short.

Short because winters are long, and so here we are in mid November again, grey and cold and the trees are bare, and everyone is planning their gardens for spring. A beautiful cycle of change, growth, and endings that parallels life.

I do love my seasons.


The picture was taken a month ago at Burr and Burton Academy in nearby Manchester. You can click on it for a larger version.



The lady in Red said...

Dear Tom, your narrative about the seasons is really well written and fabulous! I liked the description of the summer and fall there. In São Paulo, Brazil, the seasons are very changeable, but summer is terribly hot with heavy rain about 5 pm.
I wrote to you an email last thursday. I hope you have received. Thanks for the support and friendship,
Best wishes and have a nice week,

Tom Atkins said...


Thank you for your kind words. That is part of the fascination of the world, the differences from place to place and person to person.

I did not get your e-mail last week. Should you check back here, would you resend it?

Take care,


willow said...

Oh, I love my seasons, too. I would be a fish out of water in a temperate climate. Beautiful post.