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September 30, 2022

Window on the World Column | Changing the Seasons With Good Cheer

Us old gals try to be cheery; we really do. Friends since aged 15 and we are always trying to see the world with a half-full glass and getting the others to do the same. And so went the recent conversation about the turn of the seasons — a convo that is certainly a lot less sexy and fun than the convos of yesteryear, but we had better just embrace that also as a feature of our more mature dialogue.

“I try to embrace the beauty of autumn, but my heart definitely belongs to summer,” she said.

“I love the summer too — minus those 40-degree Celsius chokers … but I think of myself as most truly happy in April and May, that glorious springboard to summer … but autumn definitely has a special beauty, and I think that sense of the seasons giving us a journey through the year is very lovely…” (I’m having flashbacks to our high school English teacher trying to get us excited about Jane Austen and Fanny in the rose garden.)

“Oh, but the fading light!” I interject. “I’m always racing the daylight home from work, and I feel so royally ripped-off when the days are shorter! It’s like part of my life has been eaten up!” I positively sulk when we are forced to change the clocks back and deal with that orange and black holiday that I find so incredibly annoying.

Much as I love my sleep and enjoy the cool curl of an evening when autumn is fast approaching, there are so many reasons why I love summer more. But there’s no use mourning it, is there. Unless the world ends, we will be changing the seasons, so we had better just buck up and embrace each one for their unique gifts.

Better also plan for other things to do when we can’t be outside — books to read and write, projects to finish. I mean, seriously, you could even do some cleaning! Well, let’s not get too silly. But I would really like to find the time to clean out the garage. Yes, I’ll do that in the autumn and winter, I tell myself each year.

On another note, my female border collie is a complete fan of “Flashlight Ball” and so she manages the change of the seasons quite well.

We are so spoiled living where we do in California. We have a lengthy spring full of promise that blends into a long summer that can melt into a blissful autumn, which can lead to a mild winter. We hope for rain — that is a given in this part of the world — we always hope for the wet stuff to fall from the skies, and we start our rain dances usually in September, when we can, on occasion, get lucky with a storm or two.

We can still be seen wishing for rain in late April when the hopes are fast fading for another decent storm or two to fill the reservoirs and satisfy the farmers. I doubt that cycle will change in my lifetime, but it would be marvelous if the smart people in our country could figure out how to get the excess water from the places that don’t need it to the places that do, so that every year is not the same broken record over and over.

As the longer evenings crawl upon us, we prepare to batten down the hatches. We get ready to cover feeding stations, provide more shelter for our animals, make the awning shelter we had been talking about for months and replace the outdoor lighting. Our homemade jams and dried goods have been stored for holiday giving, our bags of tomatoes frozen for winter soups and sauces. Our grapes and apples have been given to our animals and ourselves, the tired boughs of formerly heavy fruit will lie bare. And that’s OK — even the fruit trees and tomato plants need some rest and regrouping, so that they can pop up and be plentiful again the following year. It’s all one beautiful cycle of life.

“I’m going to repair the wood stove in the stable so we can eat outside again!” husband randomly announces. The stable has been pretty dusty and forlorn since our horse Winston died and we no longer had supper parties in the stable. But here we are looking at the darker months ahead with renewed interest and thinking about dining once more in the stable.

Will our cows, goats and Mary the Mare join us in what might be a scene of almost biblical proportions? Will our friends and family enjoy it as much again — never mind the nose nibbles from a horse trying to steal a tortilla, or the intrusive shove of a goat as you foolishly imagined your plate would be just your own — that they ask for a stable dinner when they come to stay?

Even our boy from LA who tends to like to wear white and not get dirty on the ranch, even he likes to partake of a stable dinner; and maybe this winter he will. And our granddaughter? I can only imagine that she would find it particularly thrilling to eat outside with the animals. We will seek robust cheer to aid with the fading light and the forced hibernation of the winter season.

This year we won’t be traveling over the holidays, so we can make our home super cozy and cheery. We can stay at home in our pajamas if we wish and enjoy the lights on our tree. We can binge-watch Christmas movies and eat boxes of chocolates. Or, this year, if we keep working at it, we can enjoy our stable dinners once more with possibly the pitter patter on the tin roof of a most welcome winter rain.

Try and find the cheer where you can. Each season has its beauty — unless you go to England in February, that can be pretty wretched. (But the flights are cheap!) Replace light bulbs in your house to ease the gloom, put up twinkle twinkles in your family room because you like them and because you can.

In short, make the glass half full a habit and not a chore and have yourself a very Merry September. If you’re already thinking ahead toward the silly season, apparently some stores have Christmas already on their shelves in anticipation of early birds wanting to get the worm. If that’s your thing, go for it. Find the cheer.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist
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