Friday, December 7, 2007

All Seasons at Once

In my last post I commented that it seems to be autumn here in the Bay Area, judging from the foliage on some of the trees and shrubs. I'd forgotten what an all-season place this is -- because it's also spring and summer and winter as well. As I walked a few blocks to my mother's little house yesterday morning, I passed blooming roses, fuschias, bougainvillea and a purple-flowered vine. I mentioned this contrast to my mother, and she said that some people's bulbs are well up now, and will be blooming in January. The local garden center is selling pansies and cyclamen outdoors, but there is a large inflated Santa adorning the middle of the display area. This climate supports such a range of plants -- those that have tropical habits and seem to know no season, and those that change colors and drop their leaves; some that love moisture and thrive in fogs and coastal rains, and some that do well when there is little precipitation for months on end.

I grew up here, and can remember being defensive when visitors commented on the supposed lack of seasons ("We have seasons, they're just, well, subtle," I used to say), but I have come to love the marked seasons of the other parts of the country I've lived in for the past 30 years. Hot, humid summers have actually been the hardest for me to adapt to after the moderate temperatures of San Francisco, where it is usually between 50 and 75 and humidity is reserved for cool weather. And I'd be fine with it if winter only lasted 10 weeks or so, which has sometimes almost been the case in recent Minnesota years. But there's nothing to beat the joy of a May day when fragrant, old fashioned bridal wreath spirea and old lilacs grace so many Northfield gardens, or the soul-inspiring visual impact of peak color in autumn, or the silent shimmer of fresh snowfall.

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