The Four Seasons
Paul and I are two sides of the same coin in a lot of ways. He will go to the doctor for a hangnail, and I won’t go to the doctor until my arm falls off. He’s a numbers guy, and I’m a words gal. He says we live off of exit 57, and I say we live off of Providence Road.
Another example of the numbers thing deals with the way we track time. He will say he met me in 1990, and I will say we met when I was a senior in college.
I divide time into pre-Paul and post Paul (aka happy and post-happy), before or after we had Madi, and another way I tell time now is prior to Covid or after Covid. That one is a little tricky though since that illness has lingered for so long.
I strive to be mindful, but sometimes I'll look up and can't remember what season we're in. About a month ago I asked my mom why the leaves were changing already because it's still hot in the afternoons. She patiently explained "yes, but it's cold in the mornings. " Guess I missed that little detail.
According to our calendar, it takes us 365 days to go around the sun. We use the two equinoxes and the two solstices to divide our year into the four seasons with each of them having approximately 91 days.
The problem is that the division of our seasons is kind of arbitrary and not everything really fits within the confines of those designated time stretches.
I remember setting up for a birthday party for Madi one year. We were holding it outside at our house. Her birthday is the last day of summer, and the party was a couple of days later. It was autumn.
On that particular Saturday, we were setting up all the outdoor activities, and it just kept getting hotter and hotter as the day went on– forcing us to bring certain games inside. It was over 90° that day, and I remember lamenting “but it’s fall“ as if Mother Nature simply had failed to check the calendar.
A few days ago while I was preparing to meditate, I came across an article about one of the fundamentals of mindfulness: impermanence. Everything is always changing.
As an example, the article talked about the 72 micro-seasons of the traditional Japanese calendar with each lasting about five days. It went on to say it’s “offering a lyrical journey through the year, one taken with much smaller steps.“
Within their calendar, spring begins February 4 and goes through the 8th, with the name East Wind Melts the Ice, followed by Bush Warbler Starts Singing in the Mountains.
Some of their other seasons are: First Peach Blossoms, Warm Winds Blow, Mist Starts to Linger, and Cold Setting In.
If I had to name micro-seasons in the South, we would have: So Many Fallen Leaves I Can’t See the Grass, Kudzu Consumes Everything in Its Path, Time To Beat Back Weeds also known as Time to Roundup the Whole Yard, and as I have heard Madi say once, “Hot as Satan‘s Armpit.“ Perhaps not as lyrical?
The names in the Japanese calendar are beautiful and thought-provoking. I can’t imagine being in tune with nature enough to notice changes that minute. And maybe that’s the point. Mindfulness is about paying attention. When we get to where we can notice those kinds of details, we will truly be living in the moment, in the here and now. Maybe then we will be truly aware.