I grew up in West Texas, where it is warm most of the year. Although we do get snow, it is usually one single day and it is burnt off by lunch.
When I moved to New York, I had to get used to living in a place that “has all four seasons”. Although New York weather feels like ten months of Winter, ten months of Summer and two minutes each of Fall and Spring.
It has taken me a while to get used to all four seasons. It sure complicates things. I had no idea, for instance, I was going to need a different kind of shoe (winter boot) when the weather dipped below freezing.
It all seems less complicated in those places where it is 70 degrees all year round.
I remember being appalled, and I admit I am still a bit confused, when New Yorkers talk about enjoying the winter. Or “liking all four seasons”. It seems bonkers to me. But I am coming around.
Okay, if I am being honest, I have not quite “gotten used” to the four seasons. I am writing this post because I am thinking of winter and trying to strategize how to deal with it best. The first “real” winter I spent was in Nashville and the greys and dead trees really affected my mood a lot more than I thought they would. I still struggle with seasonal depression around February/March.
But one beautiful thing about the four season life is it makes me strategize. It interrupts my patterns and requires an adaptation.
For winter, I have tried puzzles and soups and all sorts of things. Like I said, I completely change my wardrobe at least a couple times a year.
Dealing with all four seasons forces my hand. I can never get too comfortable. Never too used to things. (side note: my biggest winter struggle is when it is 30 degrees outside and 155 degrees inside a crowded subway train).
When it is scorching hot in New York, we have to figure out how to cool down. In the Spring, we try to position our plants to catch the sun. In the Fall, we open our windows and take walks as often as possible.
The difficulties are all opportunities as well. And isn’t that just an annoying microcosm of all of life.
Diversity Among Consistency
When you find one of those people who claim to “love living in all four seasons”, I think what they have done is find the beauty in each unique expression of the weather.
Perhaps they are on to something.
We are all desperate for some sort of consistency in our lives. Something that does not change. In the midst of a rapidly evolving world, stability seems more and more difficult to come by.
As hard as this is for me to admit, four changing seasons are not mutually exclusive from consistency. After all, winter comes about the same time every year. As do the others. Four very different seasons, over and over again, provides, in a sense, the best of both worlds: diversity and consistency.
After all, as much as I don’t like the cold, would I want to give up the snowy days in Central Park?
One advantage to figuring all this out in New York is that the city transforms itself for every season. In the Spring, for instance, flowers pop up all over the city and the amount of people out and about seems to triple overnight. In the Fall, the leaves change, like splotches of paint all over the urban concrete. The leaves fall and blow through the city in a sort of whimsical dance. The summer is full of activity, people filling the parks, lots of residents sitting on stoops. It is like the entire metropolis leans out their window. And winter is like a snow globe or a movie set or something. The city blinks with lights and becomes a transformed version of itself.
There are things to look forward to in every season, year after year.
And learning to live in each season is a good reminder that all that happens is an opportunity for me to live and to learn. To make the most out of life. To take the circumstances as they come and see it all as background, a setting in which I am offered a diverse and consistent opportunity to live life to its fullest.