What Season Is It, Anyway? 1

I am not a fan of Halloween. It’s a good thing, too, because it doesn’t feel much like Halloween around here this year. Usually by the end of October, I’ve at least reacquainted myself with my woolies, my sweaters, my outerwear. Usually by now I’ve at least packed away the lightest of the summer things—the sleeveless tops, the shorts and capris, the strappy sandals. Usually by a solid month past the equinox, I’ve said goodbye to the annuals in my flower boxes and have almost seen the end of chrysanthemum season.

Not this year. We’ve had a couple of chilly nights, but there hasn’t been a good, season-defining frost yet. The days have been sunny and warm. It should be time for a jacket but that is an unnecessary accessory most days, unless you like to get your arm all sweaty carrying it. I’ve noticed that walkers in my neighborhood seem to put more stock in the calendar than in their own eyes and are loath to leave home without their sweatshirts. Most of them don’t get too far before they either tie them around their waists like kilts or stash them in someone’s bushes to be retrieved on the way back.

I dug up the impatiens in my window box the other day because I finally just got sick of watering them. I still have cherry tomatoes on the vine in the little garden out back. Ridiculous. I’ve gone years without a good tomato crop and now, when I should be out harvesting pumpkins, I’ve still got herbs and veggies in the garden. My friend’s clueless rhododendron has started to bloom. The big trees should be at their peak color, but they are barely getting started and though we have turned off the air conditioner, we have slept more than once this month with the windows opened and the fan going. And I spent last weekend reading on my porch swing, wearing t-shirts, capris and flip-flops, sipping on icy-cold lemonade.

This is New England, people! It’s time for cocoa and turtlenecks and reading by the fire! Maybe this is how you do things in the South Carolina low country this time of year, but this is NOT how it’s supposed to be when it’s Halloween in New England.

To be honest, I might be a little sensitive to seasonal anomalies this year. We were lucky enough to be able to travel more than usual over the past few months and our adventures took us to places that turned our environmental expectations inside out and upside down. We were in Roatán, Honduras, in January, soaking up the tropical sun, and in Alaska in August, freezing our butts off.  Add in a spring jaunt to summery Charleston and you might imagine that I have lost all sense of what is when where. I never put the off-season clothes away this year because I always seemed to need them. As a result, it was never completely clear to me what the off-season was and whether or not I was in it.

Bathing suits in winter and parkas in the summer were fun for a while, don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a minute complaining. But now that we are home and settled and ready to hunker down in the autumn chill, I really need to have things feel more like home—where I have lived for a million years and thought I knew what to expect.

So, Happy Halloween, even though it feels more like Labor Day without the extra daylight. And my neighbors have been shooting off fireworks as if it were the 4th of July, so it seems that I am not the only one who is confused here.

One thing that is clear to me is this—the times, they are a changing. Regardless of what you believe to be the cause of it, the evidence is unmistakable. Maybe the environmental ghosts and goblins are trying to get our attention.



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