Zach LeBar

Personal ramblings on a wide array of topics. "But, you know,
I could be wrong."

The 6 Seasons of The North

— Spring, Summer, Autumn, Locking, Winter, Unlocking

It snowed here last night. Not enough to really matter, just enough to leave everything slightly frosted in the morning. By noon it was gone.

This reminded me: I don’t believe there are 4 seasons any more. At least not where I live, in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last spring, Austin Kleon posted a photo excerpt of Kurt Vonnegut’s take on the seasons in the north. I’ll reproduce it, in part, below:

…there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time…Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. That is when nature shuts everything down. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes Winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold! What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.

This idea has been in the back of my mind since that time. Then, about a week or so ago, Jason Kottke talked about this idea of Vonnegut’s again. I couldn’t help but feel re-affirmed in my convictions. There really are 6 seasons, not just 4. This dash of snow last night reinforced the idea. It was a blip of a storm. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to get excited about. I’m not turning on the fireplace or making a cup of hot cocoa. It wasn’t a sign of Winter. It was a sign of Locking. Everything is shutting down, getting colder. Getting ready for Winter to arrive.

Expectations matter. I believe they can have a profound impact on our emotional health. If you live in a northern climate, kick this idea around. You might find it meshes better with your lived experience. It might help you set your own seasonal expectations more accurately.