One thing that shows the deep disconnect of Americans with the natural world, is the way in which we divide up the year into seasons. Winter, Summer, Spring and the rest of it are you might say a fact of life – at least in these mid-latitudes. But who says they HAVE to be exactly the same length. Aren’t they about seasonality – that means temperature, vegetation, the feel in the air. And can that be the same in Alabama as in Alaska ?
OK so it’s handy to have an established, traditional starting date for each season. Even though the real feel, the evidential onset, of each season will vary each year. Gardeners know only too well how Spring can be early or late. And Spring in the Mid-Atlantic region, just like in Beijing, is generally short. Certainly not three months; one week it is still frosty, four weeks later we could be having early Summer heat. Whereas Fall, from the first cool evenings to when the leaves have finally fallen, is long.
And when you look at the actual dates chosen as seasonal markers, it is even more ridiculous. The beginning of Summer is supposedly the summer solstice – one day before traditional Midsummer. Midsummer Night’s Dream? Poor Shakespeare must be turning in his grave. Choosing the equinoxes and solstices as the starting points is truly weird and illogical. All right, so if you must keep everything nice and tidy and declare three-month seasons throughout the nation, how about this: the Summer months are June, July, August, Fall spans September till the end of November, Winter occupies the coldest months of December, January and February. And for extra credit you can work out what that leaves for Spring.