Despite living in this country for almost half of my life (!) there are still many things I just can't get used to. The Sunday issue is a big one for me. Here, Sunday is my busiest work day and I get up Sunday morning ready to take it on and inevitably, at some point, I find myself frozen as it sinks in that across the ocean, my family and friends are lazing around in their pjs, eating a decadent breakfast of French toast, or better yet, have slept in most of the morning only to go out for an even more decadent brunch. The rest of the afternoon is up for grabs - what to do? The options are endless. In the winters, it could be ice skating at the local rink, or building a snowman on the front lawn, and if it's too cold to venture outdoors, it could be an afternoon matinee at the movie theatre, or better yet, a movie marathon at home, bundled on the couch with a million blankets while cradling hot chocolate. In the summer, it could be a baseball game, a walk down by Harbourfront, or a trip to the zoo. Or an afternoon swimming and sunning with friends at the beach. No one looks at their watch and only when the sun starts to descend into the horizon, does that despondent feeling sink in that Monday morning is just around the corner and you'll have to put in a full week of work before the miracle of Sunday comes around again.
I try not to think about it.
But the second thing that I miss terribly is experiencing four seasons. This country has just two. Summer = hotter than Hades; and winter = cold and wet.
Considering that spring and autumn are my favorites, I'm a bit out of luck...
There will be those of you who argue with me that we do have a spring and autumn, but let's be real here. Our spring lasts a week at most. It's like yesterday you were wearing tights and closed shoes and then you woke up, the sun was shining and hot and you're now in flip flops. Literally. Yes, it might still get cool at night for a few days, but that's pretty much it. Summer is here.
Today, this November 1st, is the first day of winter. Yesterday, we actually had the air conditioner on for about an hour in the heat of the afternoon and today the breeze coming through the open windows is actually cold. It's overcast and it's already raining in the north. And I've been battling a low-grade migraine for the second day in a row, which is my personal meteorologist telling me that this change in seasons is here to stay.
I remember reading a children's board book to one of my girls when they were maybe three or four years old and it was a story about the four seasons. The first page was a picture of a beach umbrella and a few kids in their bathing suits building a sand castle. My daughter pointed and said, "summer!" The next page had a picture of rain boots, and an umbrella and she said, "winter!" Well, this American book was portraying autumn, but I figured that was close enough, so we turned the page. It was a picture of a snowman and snowflakes. She knew it was winter, despite having never seen an abundance of snow. The next page was a picture of tiny plants breaking through the ground under a light shower of rain, flowers just beginning to bud on the branches. And she looked at me, confused, and said, "winter?"
Living in Israel, green and growth pushing out from the ground is not spring, like it is in North America. It's winter, when the rains are constant and the land is transformed from the dry brown hues of the desert into a lush carpet of verdant greens. The picture confused her because culturally, she associated growth with winter. And my heart broke a little that she'd never really understand or recognize the beauty of a real spring or autumn.
Most people think of November and they think of the "November blues". It's back to school and work after the lengthy holiday season, it's putting away all those colorful summer clothes and breaking out the dreaded tights and umbrellas, and it's looking skyward hoping for just a peak of the sun on those gray gloomy days that seem to get dark earlier and earlier.
Even though we might have skipped right over autumn and headlong into winter, I'm eagerly waiting for my migraines to fade so I can enjoy these five minutes of autumn. Honesty, I'm willing to take what I can get at this point. I'm waiting for the first heavy rain where I can sit outside on my wooden bench, under the awning of my front door and cradle a cup of hot Bengal Spice tea while the rain splashes inches from my feet. And I'm waiting to wear that brand new kelly green sweater I bought on sale a few weeks ago, lightweight but still cozy and soft. And I bought two cans of pumpkin filling to make that spiced pumpkin bread that my kids love. I'm pinning Thanksgiving recipes and have cinnamon and apples on my mind. I'm thinking about how to celebrate our wedding anniversary which makes this month of November a personal favorite. I'm staring out my kitchen window hoping that some of the leaves in my garden will turn to those gorgeous fall colors of mustard yellow, russet and ochre. They never do, but I settle for enjoying the tinkling sounds my chimes make as they sway in the wind, after they hung immobile and silent for much too long.
One of my favorite songs ever is Counting Crow's Big Yellow Taxi. And today makes me remember the lyrics that always have a way of making my heart skip a beat:
...Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'till it's gone...
And it just started to rain. Seriously.
And I know that if I don't stop to savor this moment, it will pass me by...