In Thrall to Seasons

What Barbara Kingsolver says about seasons echoes how I feel about them, having grown up in the LA area.  I still find it so amazing that all the trees burst into bloom at the same time!  I was so delighted to read that someone else feels the same way, I’m going to copy the passage here:

“January brings the snow . . . ,” began the well-thumbed, illustrated children’s book about the seasons that my children cleaved to as gospel, while growing up in a place where January did nothing of the kind….

Nevertheless, in every winter of the world, Arizona schoolchildren fold and snip paper snowflakes to tape around the blackboard.  In October they cut out orange paper leaves, and tulips in spring, just as colonial American and Australian schoolchildren once memorized poems about British skylarks while the blue jays or cockatoos (according to the continent) squawked outside, utterly ignored.  The dominant culture has a way of becoming more real than the stuff at hand.

Now, at our farm, when the fully predicted snow fell from the sky, or the leaves changed, or tulips popped out of the ground, we felt a shock of thrill.  For the kids it seemed like living in storybook land; for Steven and me it was a more normal return to childhood, the old days, the way things ought to be.  If we remembered the snow being deeper, the walks to school harder and longer, we refrained from mentioning that to any young person.  But the seasons held me in thrall.

— Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, p. 296-297


  1. I don’t remember the formative years where I lived south of the equator, but I do remember stories of how excited I was to see “snow” (age 5) as it was only something I had heard about in stories 🙂
    It is a blessing to live where there are seasons even on those winter days when your soul yearns for warmth, or a sultery summer day when a Spring breeze would be so welcomed…
    Enjoy the rebirth of Spring!

  2. But Spring and Fall don’t really count as seasons in L.A. At least I find it so much overwhelmingly more in every other place I’ve lived.

    Yes, you get trees blooming in L.A. You get leaves falling. But in places with more traditional seasons — the storybook kind — all the trees are doing it at the same time. You actually get snow in January, then the world coming to life in Spring. I still find it amazingly wonderful.

  3. I grew up in Minnesota. As far as I was concerned, winter usually ran from November through March although it occasionally began in late October and concluded in early April. Those poems and books that allotted three months to each season made me shake my head.

  4. Yeah it goes to show that these things really vary. I remember being a very little girl in Seattle and thinking it completely ridiculous that the girls in a Betsy-Tacy story had snow in March. Because I thought I knew about snow. And it doesn’t happen in March.

  5. That’s how I think of Wheaton, IL — storybook houses, with storybook weather. As a native Californian, I get pretty defensive about Southern California supposedly having “no seasons” or “no winter” — all you have to do is spend a lot of time playing outside in or around untended ground (no watering, etc.) to see the lie in that. The winter is different, sure, but it seems… how would you say… “much-of-the-world-centric” to say that winter here doesn’t exist at all! Sure, *your* winter doesn’t exist here, but that’s not the same. But anyway, despite all that defensiveness, I like the storybook weather, too! Quite a lot, in fact! =)

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