Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Nuance of Spring

     According to the calendar, it is officially Spring.  People say that here in Southern California, we don't have four seasons, or if we do, they are rain, mud, fire and earthquakes.  I used to think that, too, while I grew up here. We have also lived in Colorado, Central California, and the mountains of California with  snow and ice (and fires), all three areas with distinct seasons. Now that we are back in Southern California, I appreciate the nuances of the seasons.

     We don't have the snow or freezes or dramatic storms of other areas, but we do have seasonal changes.  The sun moves higher and lower in the sky just like anywhere else, the low winter sun shining directly into our windows casting long fingers across our floors.  In the summer, the sun is high, its path directly over the roof, illuminating different parts of the yard in different seasons. I move my flower pots around through the seasons to better catch the sun or shade, whichever those plants need.
      The length of the days changes here like anywhere else.  The long days of summer are hot and bright with no rain, which necessitates lots of watering to keep plants green and productive.  The shorter days of winter don't have enough sunlight for most vegetables, even without the freezing temperatures. Plants respond differently to the changing light which causes seasonal limitations as to what we can grow. Even though a plant is still green, it may be dormant, in a holding pattern, waiting for more sunlight. We do have a long growing season, but it is not year-round for all plants.
    Rain comes between October and May (in the good years). Our desert climate desperately needs the rain for our depleted water resources. After the rains come the mudslides, especially after an area has been swept by fires in the drier years. Thus, our reputation for unique seasons.
     In defense of Southern California seasons, they are distinctive and varied, if you watch for their subtle changes and appreciate them.  I enjoy watching what flowers flourish in each season: the pinks, whites and lavenders of spring, the reds and yellows of summer, the orange, purple and rust of fall. Yes, these are generalizations, but the blooms do tend to follow a color theme for each season. That's one of the reasons I like to wander through the plant nurseries, just to see what is currently in bloom. As with other facets of life, how we pay attention, the way we appreciate, slow down and notice the subtle changes around us, make the seasons, and life, more beautiful.

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