The last big pile of snow on the back deck is quickly melting. Buds are popping from the ends of the maple and apple tree branches. Robins are bouncing around on the back lawn in search of worms, and the mornings are filled with twirps and chitterings as the songbirds return. All the signs are lining up at the October Country Inn. Winter is on the way out and Spring is around the corner as one season gives way to another.
Speaking of seasons, our guests, when they discover that we came from southern California, often exclaim: “that must have been a change!” I always assume they’re talking about the weather. The conversation that often follows usually focuses on the one thing that figures prominently in qualifying as a significant “change.” This is the fact that Vermont has four distinct seasons, and the associated mix of weather conditions, while California has but one (two if you count a rainy day as one season and a sunny day as another).
One “change” that comes from living in Vermont with four seasons, as opposed to living in southern California with no real seasons, has to do with the necessity for weather related planning. In southern California, you can pretty much do anything any day of the year. Weather doesn’t usually enter into planning your day. It might rain, but odds are high that it won’t. So weather isn’t a factor that is usually considered, and as such, has an affect on, and becomes embedded in the regional culture.
I often overhear our guests puzzling about why their California branch office colleagues have trouble adhering to company deadlines. The reason is clear to me. It’s the weather. When you’re used to being able to do anything you want any day of the year how serious can you take a deadline. If you can’t do it today, you’ll do it tomorrow. What’s the big deal? Californians are not exposed to the kind of weather restraints that are so ingrained in the East Coast lifestyle. A Vermonter knows that he has a window in which to paint the house, for example. If he doesn’t get it done by late September, he will probably not get another chance until next May.
The other major “change” that comes from living a four season life (the timepiece factor alluded to in the title) as opposed to the mono-seasonal California lifestyle, is that in Vermont you are always aware that time is passing. There is an unavoidable sensory experience involved with the coming and going of seasons. You can see the changes, smell the changes, hear the changes, and feel the changes. This has an organizing affect on daily choices as you move through this environmental continuum. In California, where one day is pretty much a carbon copy of any other, ten years can go by relatively unnoticed.
Yes. Our life in Vermont has been a big “change” from what we were used to in California. It’s a change what we both relish, however. The only regret we have, is that we didn’t make that “change” sooner. If variety is truly the spice of life, four season living is a must.