This past week the first signs of spring began to appear on the hill behind my home. Almost overnight, tiny yellowish buds popped up on the tips of the bare branches of the Spanish Oaks. These trees put on a nice display of red foliage last fall, but spent the winter as tree skeletons. On the other hand, all of the Live Oaks, which remain lush and green throughout the cold season, have now suddenly dropped almost all of their leaves to the ground. They’re brown and a little sickly looking. The first time I noticed this, I thought the Live Oak in my front yard was dying. But I know now, within a couple of weeks, a tiny new leaf will appear where each old leaf has fallen off. The tree seems to simply refresh itself in a very short period of time. It seems odd to me that two types of trees, so closely related, react so differently to the first hint of warm March weather.
Whenever the subject of seasons comes up, I notice the reaction varies among people also. One of the national weather websites I go to regularly for a forecast always has a poll that asks, “What’s your favorite season?” Over a few years, I’ve noticed a definite pattern in the way people from all over the country respond. Summer and winter normally get a few votes, but the winning category is always either spring or fall, the two “transitional” seasons when the average temperature changes from either cold-to-warm or hot-to-cool. And the poll is even more predictable than that. From what I’ve seen, the answer for the favorite of these two seasons is always the one just starting or about to start. People everywhere are looking forward to the next change.
Not exactly rocket science, but I believe this shows something that is true in general about human nature. Transitions from one major phase in life to another, though they may be just as unsettled as the spring weather, can be the most exciting and optimistic of times. Most first graders love school, fourth or fifth graders—not so much. Senior years in either high school or college are times of anticipation of becoming an independent adult. These go on and on: becoming a parent, then a grandparent, starting a new career, retiring from a career. Life is a series of many seasons, but the most exciting times are when we can look forward to that next transition.
Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.