By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer
Why does winter seem to pass sooooo sloooowwwwly while summer goesbysofast?
From June through September is four months. From December through March is four months. But that equality of time means nothing when you get the feeling that “Yikes! Here it is September, and I’m not done with June yet!” Or “Here it is February, and it seems like two years since Christmas.”
Why this disparity? I’ve been pondering this question when in pondering mode, and I think I have the answer: environmental monotony.
The winter months present a long stretch of tedious sameness in the natural world.
The opposite months, on the contrary, present so much variety, it’s almost hard to keep up. By June, you hear spring peepers; the red-winged blackbirds then all the other summer birds are back; you see some species because they’re only passing through but some of them stay, then the males start singing at dawn; as summer progresses birds nest, and soon you see baby birds, and by the time the last birds (the goldfinches) nest, some of the other babies are already grown and getting ready to fly south.
Or the violets bloom and the dandelions, then the daisies, then the lupines pop out, then the day lilies, and when they fade the goldenrod takes over, then the asters, and amidst all that blooming and fading, dozens of other wildflowers bloom briefly and fade and make way for dozens of others that bloom and fade.
From June through September, every week in the natural world is just a little different from the week before. Always a new adventure. No wonder it goes by so fast!
By contrast, here’s what happens in the natural world from December through March: Nothing. Not totally nothing, but most of what happens takes place in the ground or under the snow or inside the trees, and we don’t see it. The earth keeps revolving, so the light changes a tiny bit at a time, but that’s not a whole lot to watch for when you look out your window.
By the end of November, a sameness settles in, sometimes a sunny sameness, sometimes a gray sameness. Winter’s idea of variety is this: Maybe we’ll have a snowstorm, or maybe we’ll have an ice storm.
That’s why winter seems to move so slowly: environmental monotony.
While I’m in pondering mode, I can ponder anything I want to cheer myself up. So I’m pondering a new idea – rainbow snow. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if snow fell in different colors, and we never knew which color we would get?
I can picture pink snow and magenta snow and aqua snow and emerald snow and lime snow and pumpkin-colored snow and gold snow. We would have layers of color. Paths made by snow blowers would be bordered by many colored horizontal layers, like the rock layers in Grand Canyon. Children would build families of snow people, each a different color.
We would no longer engage in New Englanders’ favorite storm-related activity: discussing how bad a storm will be, then discussing about how bad it is, then discussing about how bad it was. Instead, we could happily speculate about the coming colors and enjoy whatever falls. The winter months would be as interesting and varied as summer. No months would drag.
Of course I know that this is a silly idea. But when a person is in pondering mode, silliness is perfectly acceptable; in fact, it is desirable. It makes all things seem possible.
And it helps to relieve the monotony.