Ode to the seasons

I have often thought about what it would be like to live in a part of the world where there were no seasons and have determined that I would not like it. Not only do I enjoy, to differing degrees of course, the seasons themselves but is the anticipation of the change in the seasons which I believe I have come to appreciate most.

It disturbs me even now, all these years later, to remember that I was the one person in my college English class who never managed to get the point of anything that we read. Perhaps it was my nascent scientific mind or my budding reductionist view of the world, but it seems I was only capable of reading and understanding the words and the sentences. Ignorant me, I took them all at face value. Apparently my classmates had learned that reading and understanding the classics had something to do with looking past the words and between the lines to find intended meaning. Where was I when this was being taught in grade school? Because of this incapacity I was always the first to rush to the bookstore as soon as each new text was assigned, to purchase yet another volume to add to my collection of Cliff Notes. I can still remember the thin printed pages, the yellow and black paper covers, and the large lists of Other Available Titles on the back. Many thanks to the publishers of this invaluable aid without which I would never have graduate from college.

I still do not know why, but John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn stands out as the single work of the English literary canon which I read and understood, without assistance. And it wasn’t only the words and the sentences … I believe that I understood its meaning. I reveled in my accomplishment. Although Keats says much in this classic among Victorian classics, what resonated (and still does) so well was that change and especially our ability to both anticipate and then realize change is important. In his poem Keats describes scenes which adorn the walls of an urn; singers, lovers, and blossoming trees. But as they are frozen adornments the depicted can only anticipate singing, embracing, and bearing fruit. One wonders whether the urn represents a paradise, in which future pleasures may forever be anticipated, or a torment in which future pleasures may never be realized? I take away from Keats the idea that anticipation is just as valid an act as realization and that, in some cases, it may even be better.

So, what does all of this have to do with the changing seasons here at 41º N latitude? The deepening yellows, oranges, and reds of the terminus of autumn serve to remind me how much I lament its passing. Once the change is complete and winter descends I will take solace in the fact that the earth will continue to both spin on its axis and orbit the sun. The Celestial Mechanic in me will give thanks for the 23.5º of tilt that will, in good time, bring spring my way once again. Until then I will eagerly, and with much anticipation, await its arrival. I should note that a Google search yielded the image on the left and that the one on the right was taken just the other day. It shows a scenesing leaf from a Silver Maple seedling which grows by the side of the barn.

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