What Season Is It?

In my scrolling and reading this morning, I came across this piece from Kottke, quoting a Kurt Vonnegut graduation speech given at Fredonia State College, in which the great humanist writer argues that the four seasons we generally recognize aren’t enough.

One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.

This made me recall the twitter account I follow called Small Seasons, which follows the sekki, or 24 seasons used by Japanese and Chinese farmers prior to the Gregorian calendar. Small Seasons even has a widget to put the sekki on your calendar, which I’ve found to be helpful in trying to slow down a little this year.

And you can pair Small Seasons with the teacher and writer Matt Thomas’s blog post from a couple years back about living life more in concert with the seasons.

Fall is a time to write for me as well, but it also means welcoming—rather than fighting against—the shorter days, the football games, the decorative gourds. Productivity writer Nicholas Bate’s seven fall basics are more sleep, more reading, more hiking, more reflection, more soup, more movies, and more night sky. I like those too. The winter will bring with it new things, new adjustments. Hygge not hay rides. Ditto the spring. Come summer, I’ll feel less stress about stopping work early to go to a barbecue or movie because I know, come autumn, I’ll be hunkering down. More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock. The result has been I’m able to prioritize better.

Prioritizing and finding a more natural rhythm in life are a couple of things I’ve been trying to be better about lately. Given the current hellscape nature and pace of the world, it seems paying a little more attention to that might be helpful to a whole lot of people.

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