This is the season of rollercoaster weather here in the southeastern part of the United States. While other people are having "fall," and people in Hawaii are having "tropical," we are having a thing called Winterfallspringwinterfallfallwinterspringfall.
You can tell you're in Louisiana if you have icicles on the camellias one day ...
and fog like this at dusk two days later ...
...and you should have seen it the next morning. It was like trying to see through a milkshake, just looking out the kitchen window. I suspect that this is the "brooding Southern beauty" that Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns is so fond of.
Winterfallspringwinterfallfallwinterspringfall is confusing for creatures of a botanical inclination. The fall blooming flowers bloom, and then they get iced on. Since it is still summer at the end of September, the trees don't remember to start changing color till Halloween, and then, lazy things that they are, they wait until the first real freeze to realize that their leaves are supposed to come down, and because Winterspringfallwinterfallfallwinterspringfall is really a bit of a mouthful, this is when we have a season called
which lasts exactly 72 hours.
Now I have been up North during "fall."
"Fall" is when the air gets crisp and windy, and the trees turn bright colors, and, a little at a time, in nice leafy flurries, they shed their garb over a period of several weeks in a modest botanical burlesque.
"Dump" is kind of like "fall" in that the leaves do fall off the trees, but it's just that the weather down here provides the poor trees with no real clue as to which season it actually is from one day to the next, until one day, one of the trees (it's usually a sycamore) wakes up and hollers out to the rest of them,
"HOLY CRAP IT'S THE MIDDLE OF DECEMBER AND WE STILL HAVE LEAVES!!!!"
Unlike the slow and sultry feather-dance of Northern trees, Southern trees rip their clothes off all at once, like a couple of profoundly drunk college students after a kegger, and they dump all of their garb in one big, whooshy pile all over your roof and driveway, usually at about three o'clock in the morning.
It wakes you up.
"Dump" always happens right after you have cut your grass and cleaned your yard, and the next morning your driveway looks like this:
Over the next 71 hours, the wind will divest the trees of the very few tenacious leaves who were afraid to jump, and Dump will be over, as fast as it began.
Which allows us to have "winter," or what passes for it down here.
And speaking of which, today is the Solstice, when people the world over celebrate the return of the sun. It is a day when our most ancient instincts call out to us, regardless of the faith we were raised in. At very least we will note that the calendar says it is the first day of winter.
But most people will find themselves outdoors a bit today, without even knowing why. Christians, Jews and persons of all denominational flavors, knowingingly or unknowingly, will today find themselves answering some primal call, in some small way, a response to a tiny cry from the collective subconscious.
It may manifest in an urge to take a brisk walk around the neighborhood and breathe deeply of the crisp air, or a sudden desire to build a fire and meditate in its soft light. You may light a candle for no particular reason, and reach spontaneously for a refreshing adult beverage, even if you're normally not inclined to tipple. You may find yourself tracking a bird in flight and, just for one moment, imagine yourself in the bird's place, soaring over the winter landscape. Or perhaps you will find yourself in your yard or the nearby woods, with a sharp knife in hand, gathering evergeen branches to grace your home for the holidays.
A Happy Solstice to all.