Archive for March 6th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #29- Four Seasons

The Four Seasons was an American rock and pop band that became internationally successful in the ‘60s and ‘70s … Just kidding.  This is about the earth and its changing seasons.

Most people know that the four seasons — spring, summer, autumn and winter — exist on earth as a result of its tilt on its axis, compared to its orbit around the sun.  Knowing that the orbit is not perfectly round might cause one to think that summer happens when the earth is closest to the sun and winter when it’s farthest away, but that is not the case. 

Because of the tilt, part of the earth is getting more energy from the sun in summer and less in winter.  In spring and autumn, the amount of energy becomes more-or-less equal around the globe.  Also, because of the tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres enjoy opposite seasons from the other (the U.S. experiences summer while it is winter in Australia, and vice-versa).

But nature is not content to simply make the temperatures shift from one season to the next.  The earth’s climate revolves around the changes in solar energy, and each geologic region has its own peculiarities.  Some are universal, such as snow and ice in winter, autumn changing of colors of leaves as the deciduous trees make less and less chlorophyll, flowers blooming in the spring and summer, and monsoons and hurricanes appear as the heat of summer warms the atmosphere and oceans.

Humans have adapted well to the seasons, especially in agriculture.  This has enhanced hopes and expectations as each season begins to wane and make way for the next.  Spring is for planting, and fall is forever harvest time.  Summer is for work and play, while winter is for hunkering down and hibernation.

I have had the opportunity to live in a variety of locations around the country throughout my life, from the two seasons of California (summer and fall) to the two seasons of Western New York (”winter and August 12th,” or “winter and construction,” depending on who you ask), but also the four seasons in Washington State and Kansas.  Even those areas that seem to skip seasons truthfully don’t.  You just have to be paying more attention.

Contrast is a big reason that the changing seasons enhance the human experience.  The warmth of spring and summer can be fully appreciated once one has survived the colder fall and winter. The rains of spring follow the snow or ice of winter.  The heat of summer replaces the chill of spring.  The cooler breezes and autumn storms follow the dry heat of summer.   The passage of time and of life is often chronicled with the change of one season to the next, or at least the passage is more felt.

As one would expect, everyone seems to have their own favorite and disliked seasons.  Growing up in heat or cold doesn’t necessarily make one like them more or less.  It really is an individual taste.  But, the universal themes of hope and anticipation accompany nearly every change of season.  In my case, however, dread of winter was always my autumn emotion.


I’ll finish this discussion with a quote from American writer Rebecca Solnit, who said, “For millions of years, this world has been a great gift to nearly everything living on it, a planet whose atmosphere, temperature, air, water, seasons and weather were precisely calibrated to allow us – the big us, including forests and oceans, species large and small – to flourish.

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