Thursday, October 1, 2009

a repost: Life with 4 Seasons

this is a post i wrote in March of 2005, in the spring. here i sit, very far from the spring, but knowing patience will take me once again through the long winter. the winter.
I wonder a lot about whether people who live in a moderate climate really get to appreciate a true spring. Capital 'S' Spring. It's ability to almost transform me instantaneously - like how a phone call or a glance can make you feel hope - never ceases to amazes me, year in and year out. Like you're at home - finally, after a long arduous journey. Winter does that to people. Well, this girl anyway.

Here I sit, looking out at my neighbours house and how the flat icing stucco looks like something out of Tuscany right now. Just by looking at the house through the pines and adjusting your eyes to hide the snow on the garage roof, it can be summer for real out there - with the orange low glow of the sun changing the whites to peaches. This new chapter needs to be official. I'm wearing a long white linen skirt and a thin long sleeved t-shirt. Bare feet of course. And my longish blonde pony tail. Summer wear, summer me. Dogs sleeping at my feet. Live Dave playing. Cigarettes close by. And the watered down Coke. Spring. I'm in heaven.

So I wonder about how it must feel to have this lack of drama that we, the survivors of all 4 seasons, experience every 4 months. Some, from what I have been told, the "fortune" ones live where it's hot and only used to seeing 10 degrees (Celsius) of change in temperature, a couple times a year. Personally, I don't see this as being my choice. I have a friend who put off her birthday last year. It's March 12. She wanted a barbeque outside for her birthday party this year so decided to slide it down 4 months on the calendar. Only people who experience all 4 seasons can do that. And I'm not talking about people who live in Washington DC, I'm talking to those hot climate dwellers. None of those places are all that great in my humble opinion. What do you think when you think of those places? I think:
  • Iraq: War & Devestation;
  • Florida: Corrution and Hurricanes(again, multiple);
  • Mexico: Drug trafficking, flooding and a place to go for 2 weeks a year; Spain: well Spain would be good. They did play a large part in slavery though...;
  • Egypt: Terrorism & Oppression but still, amazing history;
  • Israel: Don't get me going.
What I am trying to convey is that we, the members of the human race who live in dramatic climate change area of the globe are generally peace-lovers with advanced social policies, stable economies, democratic, drug-loving, happy societies . I mean look at us - we're Canada, we have it made! We have:

  • A democratically elected government;
  • Access to Social Services;
  • Equality;
  • Opportunity; and
  • Freedom.
Look at the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland too - I think we can agree that they are a pretty calm bunch. (*1 ) Coupled with us, I think that the group of us hold the key to the future. We are the calm, rational, peace-lovers, remember. We believe in helping people help themselves and not literally forcing democracy on any other country. We're peacekeepers. Peace-Forcing, is not only an oxymoron, it's a physical and mental impossibility. (Here's hoping the forceful nations figure this one out soon.) In my opinion, people have to feel empowered enough to insist upon democracy. Demand it. Our role, (the soft, nicer group of humans we seem to be) offer assistance to those who desire change in their unfair world. To want access to education, like the Afghan women wanted for their girls under the Taliban, or just that little thing that we take for granted: physical safety. The women of the DRC need that today - to not have to hide themselves and their children from rape in the woods, each night, any longer.

I think Canada's kindness may come from the variety of seasons, the circle of life they represtent for us, and our responsible attitude make Canadians patient and concerned members of the global community. Those of us who experience dramatic climate change for 1/4 of the year have about 1/4 of the year filled with down time. We reflect. We give thanks. The world slows down after the intense, stifling, fun-filled spring and summer months. We go back indoors. So we have the advantage, we get a chance to wind down, learn patience and that nature nor time can be tampered with or rushed. I think that those who live in hot climates aren't necessarily the lucky ones. We hear about winning trips to Jamaica, and Cuba and Mexico. Yippee, you're sooooo lucky! Good for you! You deserve it! Of course we do - everyone needs to get away from their desk and lay on thier ass a couple weeks a year. Some choose to take a break from all the 'down time' of winter and sit on the beach with drinks in a tropical paradise of a resort. I love it. Who wouldn't? The difference is that outside the gates of that Garden of Eden lies the real Jamaica, the real Cuba, the real Mexico. I can guarantee you that there isn't a nation just lying around in lawn chairs all day with Pedro bringing them free vodkas day in and day out. And don't be thinking that they are nations filled with wonderful governments, social services, equality, opportunity and freedom. No-sirree-Bob. They be working in the factories, and fetching water, and slaving after our lazy asses all winter - god love anyone who will do that! And for most times pennies a day. See we can visit the Garden but, by god, don't venture out into the wild world outside the reinforced perimeter & guards. Sounds great? No thanks. We all hear the stories about the poverty and people tipping the equivalent of a month's salary to their sweet maid, the extra shoes to leave behind and the cute stickers for the kids. Doesn't sound like any Eden to me. I'll take 4 seasons any day!

I recall a segment CNN aired in the early days of 2005. January 3 or something. It's premise was to explain that the recent string of natural disasters was, in fact, quite normal and not a signal of the beginning of the Apocolypse. It did not mean the world was ending. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the phrase "the world is not ending" was said by a meteorologist. Ouch.

Warm places are great!

California is sliding into the ocean every season due to fires all summer and record rains during the winter. Mount Saint Helen's gurgled and threatened eruption again this year. Hurricanes - yes, plural - in Florida. Slip-slidin'-away. America in general has had too many natural disasters in recent years - sign o' the times I say. My friend would say "Thinning the herd."

Globally there were earthquakes, mudslides, and flooding this past year. And then there's the big-gun, the tsunami, of course. Havoc was being wrecked around the world, live 24/7 -365. Here in Ottawa: It got a bit cold and dark, we came in ready for the white stuff to come, for the hockey season to start (damn NHL) and a chilly fall day walking the dogs in the leaves. Then we got snow and spent time having holidays and festivities, still watching hockey and the dogs play in the snow. But thinking, hibernating, I call it. I do it every year. And, yes, it amazes me every year how reflective and inside myself I go every winter. I enjoy it. I enjoy hanging out at home when the days are short, with a warm dog, an old quilt, a great book, a remote, a coffee, and a cigarette all within reach. That is one of my heavens for sure. That picture. Who needs year round heat?

Then the snow went away, and it came time to start the other half of my reality. You know, the social, outgoing, tanned, barefoot, patio-drinking, wedding attending, TV-hating person I am the other 6 months of the year. Those 6 months are the most energetic of the year in my opinion. Not unlike Christmas, which is the only thing that makes January bearable. The energy we exert in December is recharged during our laziness of January. September and October weather is bearable because Ottawa summers are hot and humid and we are looking forward to those great sleep-nights that we get in those latter days of August and into September. Kids are ready to get back to a routine and their friends after a summer at the cottage or at camp, or if not sheer boredom of being at home every day with your siblings and parents - for 7 weeks straight. It symbolizes rebirth and a fresh start to many I'm sure, but I bet those nights in early fall are not loved anywhere else. I love those nights. I think most Canadians do.

So, basically my point is this: Remember, Canadians: We may have snow and cold but our rewards are vast. Think of the tulips and crocuses of the spring & the first drink on the patio; the hot summer night walks and cross-breezes we love; a Sunday walk with a sweater on, a coffee, and a running dog in the woods; a snowy Christmas. Simply put, it really as good as it gets. Most hot spots are in the midst of civil war, a revolution, an epidemic crisis, a famine, flood or fire, economic instability, and/or oppression. And many don't get spring flowers or snow at Christmas. We really are lucky.

*1(Ok, we all need to work on some issues and I'm not trying to imply that life is by any means perfect, but I think it's fair to say we are more advanced than the majority out there. Cool?)

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