We New Englanders are fiercely proud of our Seasons. Ask any of us why we live in this area of the country, and you are fairly guaranteed that one of the answers will be “because I love having four seasons.” Each season brings us variety, reliable change, and a certain kind of beauty. Every seasonal change sparks a flash of excitement within us. The weather shifts, and we start looking forward to the next holiday, start planning new activities, and rush to get our cameras… because apparently a lifetime of photos of daffodils, beaches, red maple leaves and snow-covered evergreens are never enough.
Our seasonal pride can reach a level of smugness as we offer our condolences to those in other climates as they deal with lengthy oppressive summer heat, or weeks of below-zero winter temperatures… and we feel sorry for those who don’t witness the splendor of Fall foliage – as if nothing else in our country could possibly be more beautiful.
We can even have extensive philosophical discussions as to which season is our favorite, and why. Avid skiers count the days until winter brings a good snowfall. Sun worshippers are thrilled when summer arrives, and those who appreciate a nip in the air will extol the virtues of autumn. Yes, we wear our love affair with our seasons like a badge of honor.
And yet… there is a fifth season we all dread. It is like the ugly duckling in our weather-world of swans. We don’t like to talk about it – we try to ignore it, just push through it. But each year it shows up and brings us down. It is The Grey Season. Generally speaking, in our area, Grey Season starts around the beginning of February and lasts into March. Winter has lingered on and has begun to live-out its usefulness. Spring is trying hard to arrive, but doesn’t yet have the strength to break through.
I have no major aversion to the color grey. It can be lovely in appropriate places like a man’s suit, a kitten’s fur, or on a colonial house. But in nature it is less than lovely. During Grey Season, daylight is minimal. Skies are less sunny and clouds cast a dull tone on us all. Snow banks along the roads have started to melt and get dirty. Patches of grass aren’t green. Grit and grime gets tracked in to the house (Something we Real Women particularly despise.) With the adjustment of temperatures, the precipitation coming out of the skies is not fluffy and white – it is drizzle, rain or fog. Literally everything around us has turned: Grey.
And we proud, smug New Englanders turn cranky and anxious. Even the folks who love winter start to join in the same chorus of “I can’t WAIT until Spring.”. This 5th Season, the shortest of them all, seems the longest. We start to hate putting on boots and being cold and wet. We walk with our shoulders hunched, we look pale and puffy, and our tempers are short.
Then finally – it happens. The sun comes out. The temperatures edge up to the 50’s. We change the clocks ahead and magically gain more afternoon daylight. Small green sprouts push out of the ground. Birds start to sing more. And the greyness fades. Yes, I realized I just sounded like I am describing a scene from a Disney movie. Well, maybe we aren’t Snow White – but we begin to emerge like momma bears coming out of hibernation, and we all start smiling a bit more and treating each other a bit better. Our energy levels go up and we think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve made it through another Grey Season.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to grab my camera – I saw the green tips of crocus poking up through the dirt and mud and I need to commemorate the occasion.