Thursday, 29 June 2017

Around the Corner

I'm halfway through next year. Living it in advance in a manner of speaking. And, just to bemuse you, I'm talking in my present, your past. Actually, when I next read this, it will be mine too. Confused?
I'm in the beginnings of autumn, you, if I've timed this right, should be in the last week of June 2017, not that I can tell you what state I or the world, economically, politically, environmentally, will be in, but wait, even if I did so it would be too late, after the date, at the time of your reading.
It's not impossible to write about summer, the one gone or the one to come, but right now, my now, I've got the urge to prepare for hibernation. To gather my stores for the winter. To conserve energy, including that used in thought, until the advent of spring. The spring you're passing through.
I'm not a winter person, in spite of it being the season in which I was born, although as a child I think I might have been. Looking back it mostly seems like going through motions, those moments that most children in Europe at some point have of ice and snow. Watching flakes fall and settle; tobogganing down a thick snow-covered slope in a park; building a snowman, and throwing snowballs. Perhaps I was lucky to have experienced frost and not the tropics with its heat, monsoon rains, hurricanes and biting insects.
Then, cold never used to be painful, not as I remember it anyhow, or maybe the stinging cold in itself was a joy. Now, it's a trial to welcome these months when the ground hardens and a bitter northerly wind blows. I begin rubbing my hands and my ears sing, yes sing, in a high pitched whine long before the switch is felt by others, or complained of. A draught settles in my bones and there's a ghost at my feet, blowing cold air on my toes like an electric fan, even with socks and bed coverings.
Summers, too, are different. Different to what they were. Unless it's my perception that's changed. Certainly the way my body copes has altered. I get prickly heat and I've grown to dislike humidity and brilliant sunlight. My eyes are easily dazzled by the light the sun casts and my body is more sensitive to the powerful rays it exudes, and yet it's so nice to be warmed. To be tenderised after winter; for goose-flesh to be banished and to have hands that I or others don't recoil from.
We never like what we're given, or fully realise that we're only given what we can handle. For nothing ever seems that way when you're in it, unprepared for its coming, unless you thrive on circumstances being thrown at you from every direction. Afterwards, you might acknowledge you rose to the challenge, though it might have weaken you, bewildered you, had you run around in a panic or wander in a daze, but not before or during. There are very few made of such stern stuff, visible on the surface and beneath.
Weathering the seasons is much the same. It's unsettling, it brings turmoil like life does. But we adjust. We recover. Return to discarded habits as we do to suitable clothing for the season. It's what our Empire's built on: industry and consumerism. Trade. Store cupboard staples and bolts of cloth; exotic fruits and vegetables; spices and rum.
The world has its own schedule. History too has its periods, some unpredictable, some almost fated to happen, and yet we would like to erase these as we would like to do away with weather patterns. We want consistency, transparency and less unethical practices. We want a more temperate climate. However, there's always a price to pay, something to offset the perceived benefits. In everything: people, history, industry, weather, there's good and bad. Light and shade. They reside together, you can't have one without the other, not entirely. A world in which there's the sun but no moon. A world where ice doesn't exist, anywhere, though that world, some would say, is getting closer to fruition. A world in which items are given for free and nobody pays. Somebody always does.
Yet without these phases we'd be poorer because if nothing has a value there's nothing to appreciate.

Picture credit: Around the Corner, Andrew Wyeth