Seasonal Showdown

HOWARD MEGDAL: To be certain, I find things to enjoy in all the seasons. But compared to Spring, the other three seasons are merely failures to live up to the promise brought about by the magical time between late March and late June.

Spring dawns as baseball season begins. Throughout Springtime, your team can dream of pennants flapping in the breeze. By the time Summer is over, both your pennant hopes and, indeed, the breeze itself have long since disappeared. Fall is for watching other teams live out your dream. Winter denies you any baseball at all.

Indeed, spring provides ideas about how perfect your Summer is to be. Summer then disappoints. In fact, most of the hot-but-not-unbearable days the media would have you believe are part of Summer come, yes, in Springtime. Remember that Memorial Day barbecue? Summer tries to claim it- people attempt to call it the unofficial start of Summer. Well, it’s nothing to do with Summer. That’s peak-era, juicy Spring there.

It’s an easy mistake to make. You’re mistaking it with that godawful 103-degree August day with ridiculous humidity that made you want to crawl inside your air conditioning. That’s Summer.

As for Fall, perhaps you prefer your occasional Spring-like days to be surrounded by falling leaves (which are all dead, by the way), along with the occasional scent in the air of Winter. There’s Halloween, of course, the Child Molester’s Christmas, and Thanksgiving, where you can see your Spring hopes and dreams personified by the turkey, stuffed and inanimate, on your dining room table.

But notice that when the weather gets particularly nice for Fall- you know, normal for Spring, but Fall is graded on a curve- it is called Indian Summer. Generally, 75 degrees qualifies as Indian Summer. Unless Indians start their Summer in April, this is a huge misnomer. That’s Indian Spring, baby.

And Winter? Really? I mean, snow is pretty. For a few minutes. Then it is dark gray sludge that kills thousands of drivers a year. When you’re walking in that Winter Wonderland, try not to trip on all the gravestones.

And January, February or March, the hope comes when temperature climbs into the 50s, or even the 60s- is Spring here? That’s the mark of a great season, Winter- everyone keeps hoping you are over already. People will manhandle a groundhog, and make a national holiday, simply for the off-chance that an unsightly caged animal will deliver us from Winter.

Ah, but not just deliver from Winter- but into Spring.

JESSICA BADER: Ask just about any child in the United States what their favorite season is, and summer will be the answer you get. It’s not hard to figure out why – summer is the time of year with no school. Yet even though I’m now at the stage of my life where I work full-time just as much in July and August as any other months, summer is still special to me.

Now, summer is far from perfect. The need for air conditioning is enough to double my electric bill, most of my favorite television shows are off until September, and the public discourse descends to its most idiotic and sensationalist level (yes, Ground Zero Mosque Death Panels, I’m looking at you). But what makes summer a wonderful time is more than enough to outweigh this.

The warm sunshine of summer brings with it not needing to wear a jacket. Corduroys and boots go into storage while cropped leggings and flip-flops become part of your daily uniform (at least if you’re in the kind of workplace that lets you get away with that). Weekends are enjoyed not by staying cooped up inside away from the elements, but by basking in the glorious weather at a nearby park and enjoying some tasty treats. The baseball season has stabilized to the point where Mark Teixeira is above the Mendoza Line and Livan Hernandez is no longer leading the league in ERA, but as long as you don’t live in Pittsburgh or Baltimore the local team is still in the thick of it. Even at work, things feel more laid-back, as half the office is on vacation along with two-thirds of everyone you do business with.

Summer is a time to step back from the frenetic pace of the rest of the year and catch some rays, to act like a kid even when you now have adult responsibilities. You’ll miss it when it’s gone, finding every excuse not to put those flip-flops away just yet.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I can’t say exactly why Fall is my favorite season, but that almost seems appropriate.  Sometimes the things you love the most defy explanation.  Sure, I can name many, many reasons why Fall is a wonderful season, but most of those reasons are bittersweet, and tinged with melancholy.  Kind of like Fall!

The colors of Fall are beautiful, for one thing—a bright, festive explosion of autumnal splendor.  Granted, leaves do turn dazzling right before they die, so that’s a bit of a downer.  But they’ll be back.  In the meantime, you can console yourself by going apple-picking and drinking cider.  Biting into a crisp Fall apple right off the tree in the height of the season?  There’s nothing like it.

Then there’s the rest of the Fall palette.  October Fest beer comes onto the scene, and pumpkin-flavored beer and pumpkin spice coffee.  And if you don’t love pumpkin-flavored things, how do you feel about sweaters?  Sweaters are great!  And so is wearing cozy socks, and jackets, and leaving the windows open in late afternoon even as the chill in the air gradually becomes more pronounced.  Oh, and let’s not forget soup.  And hot tea!  Suddenly baking becomes fun again, too, which is a relief after spending an entire summer leaving the oven off because it will heat up the house, which is already a sauna.  And did I mention chili?  Eating warming foods is silly during Spring and Summer, and often not helpful enough in Winter.  But in Fall?  It’s the perfect amount of comfort.

And can we talk about Fall holidays?  Even if you don’t get Columbus Day off (and I’m not saying anything either way about the validity of lauding Columbus, but I really love that holiday Monday), many jobs inexplicably give employees Thanksgiving Day AND The Day After Thanksgiving off.  And Thanksgiving itself is a lovely holiday, given that its main focus is getting together with friends and family, cooking all day and then eating lots more food than you really should.  And to top it off, there’s Halloween!  The main focus of which is dressing up and eating candy!

Plus, if you’re something of a pessimist like me, you appreciate the sweet sadness of Fall.  The sky never looks more brilliantly blue than it does in Fall.  The days are still fairly long, and the sun still heats things up in the middle of the day, but when the wind blows it brings with it the faint, troubled scent of winter’s approach.  I love that smell!  The smell of lower temperatures to come; the feeling that Winter is inexorably approaching.  Fall is a long, beautiful, resigned shrug.  A knowing look in the form of a season.  You and Fall both know that harder times are on the way.  But that knowledge only makes Autumn’s brief beauty that much more brilliant.

AKIE BERMISS: ‘Tis the season for a Season-off, but who among us shall speak for Winter? Is there any man-jack among you courageous enough to be Winter’s champion in her hour of need? None! None shall shall stand for her?! Then you give me no choice: I will take up the cause. I was born in April and so many feel I should have an affinity for Spring (which I actually kind of hate) when, in truth, the greater part of my gestation would clearly have taken part during Autumn and Winter. If I was on time (and I usually am!) I would’ve been conceived in July or August. In fact, I have long considered myself Winter’s son. And she has been a great mother to me.

I love the cold, dark months. I know we North-Easterners have been conditioned to pine for the tropics when things get cold but, actually, I hate to leave down when things are their most cold. I love to wake up at 7am in December and January and have it still be night-dark outside. I love the sudden, piercing light of morning. The bright, un-warming daytime. And the all-too-soon resumption of darkness in the evening. It is in Winter, most of all, that *I* wake to sleep. It is Winter when that first cup of coffee in the morning is so precious. When you step outside for the first time in the morning and your breath is foggy before you. How can you not love those things?

And Winter is the best time for my wardrobe. All Summer long, I wear like two pairs of shorts, a couple of different t-shirts and a smatter of long sleeve shirts here and there. I mean, you hardly wear anything — so why get a lot of it? I don’t need thirty pairs of shorts, after all. I basically live out of one drawer all Spring and Summer. Then there is Autumn, when most people start to complain about needing to find pants, I simply open up my closet and drink deep the various hanging garnets. Coats, jackets, cardigans, pull-overs, flannels… turtle-necks!… argyle sweaters and sweater-vests, sports jackets. I could go on. I have a whole slew of hats I can only really find an excuse to wear during Winter. Also, Winter is when its ok to walk around the house in a house-coat all day. Like, I don’t want to get dressed, but it is a bit cold: better put on a robe.

Who doesn’t like walking around in a robe?

I went to college in upstate New York. Winter lingers well in to the first week of April up there. And Autumn ends abruptly in mid-November. Basically, winter comes on strong and stays for breakfast. And I loved it. We usually finished up classes mid-December and weren’t due back until the end of January. I always found a reason to go back. Sometimes I got a campus job or I house-sat for a professor. Eventually, when I lived off-campus, you couldn’t tear me away from my upstate apartment. Many was the blizzard and icy-rain torrent I out lasted in that little haven. The upstairs apartment of an old rectory — complete with a functioning fireplace in the bedroom. And a view, on the cold clear nights, of the Civil War era cemetery out back.

Never was I more pleased to be up there than when it got cold out and I made a big fire to last the night. Had a couple of good books and a handle of bourbon.

See, the thing about Winter is you got to know how to love it. Summer is too easy. Too warm, too eager to please. Spring is too young — too changeable. Is it warm or chilly? Will it rain or shine? Autumn, I love you. We all agree that you’re the belle of the ball… so colorful, so brisk, so enchanting. But, er, who’s your friend? The quiet one? Yeah — I’d like to get to know her. It’ll take some wooing, I bet, but the relationship will last and last and last.

I’m sorry to see her go every year. Spring is a paltry half-season in comparison and could never take Winter’s place. But the sense of relief I get when Summer starts to fade, when Autumn comes around, when the skies get higher and clearer — its such a delight. Winter is on her way. I’m back in Brooklyn now, but when she comes, I pour myself a drink, light a cigar and pine for that old apartment and its fireplace and the Winter wind howling, seductively, through the eaves.

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