The Fifth Season

I have not posted in a while. What I was planning to have complete, is not. I have been working on the pillars of wellness, but in truth, it is a daunting research project. I love the process and it is therefore taking me down all sorts of wonderful rabbit holes. Stay-tuned, it is coming. Not to mention that all that great information is forming the foundation for the first #creaspatreat in September. Sign-up to www.dailycreatives.comto receive the early bird sign-up details when they are ready in March. Until then….back to some more thoughts from my bus ride.

“Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.”   -Plato

I remember a photo from school which showed all 4 seasons in a deciduous forest, lined up in vertical slices so you could see the changes in the color of the seasons. What a marvel of nature to put up such a colorful show. The shoots of spring bearing life for the full bloom of summer. A color riot in the fall as a wrap up party for the winter slumber, covered so nicely in a blanket of white. 

This yearly metamorphosis is something I really love about living in the Northern hemisphere. The plants remind us about what is important to pay attention to in each quarter of time. They are extremely reliable in this cycle of life. As long as humans don’t mess about too much, the seasons are fairly predictable.

Except our Northern rainforest does not usually experience the typical rotation. We get something else here. With temperatures moderated by the prevailing winds blowing onshore from the Pacific Ocean, the forecast is a mix of sun and cloud with high or low chances of rain. That is it, all year long. Cold rain in the winter and less so in the summer. I stop short of describing it as warm, because it is not that.

Every so often, (although with increasing frequency), we get a fifth season. A cycle of snow gets mixed into winter. What the rest of Canada fails to understand is that the rain doesn’t really give way to snow in a proper and orderly fashion. Instead the rain becomes freezing and then maybe some of it turns to snow in some parts of the city. Back and forth it goes until the temperatures really dip down and the snow sticks. It is not light and fluffy, it is wet and heavy. Shoveling feels like lifting buckets of water.

All of the afore mentioned differences are not that bad, in and of themselves until it comes to driving a motor vehicle. The rate at which the rain and snow are dancing back and forth with each other is unpredictable. The city road crews are then playing a game of odds trying to figure out what to do for prepping the roads. Salt might be washed away or there is often no time to get it down as the rain turns to snow and ice in an instant. Clearing away snow, which falls so quickly it might as well be rain, is another tricky operation.

Now throw in the people, the cars and buses, the need to commute. While many folks are scared to leave their warm and comfy homes, everybody else has to venture out. The city should just declare it a snow day and everyone stays in, but no such luck. What ends up happening is a mulligatawny soup sort of situation. No matter how skilled some drivers are, the terrible road conditions mixed with the majority of inexperienced drivers makes for chaos. Maybe there should be a reduction of speed limits by half? That probably wouldn’t go over too well either.

Most years the fifth season doesn’t take hold. The snow comes for a few days in December or January, causes havoc and then disappears. But this year, she arrived in February and is overstaying her welcome. The forecast into March shows the snowflake symbol. Really. The plants of Spring are set to go, patiently waiting. They were tricked by the seemingly mild winter and started shooting up in January. Who knows if they will be able to withstand this blanket of white which keeps getting laid down. Only time will tell.

The other side effect of the fifth season is the prolonged cold and flu season which paces winter. I usually scoff at that forecast. My husband and I so rarely get sick and our children are not little ones anymore, bringing home all sorts of nastiness from grade school. Also, we chased summer last year, travelling around the world never going to a place which was wintery. We have somehow lost our natural defenses or this winter has been particularly tricky. In any case, we have been sick with colds at varying times. It feels like we just pass it around the house to each other, round and round the cough, sneezing and sniffles go.

What is very unusual for any of us is a two-weeker. I’ve heard of this happening to other people, but we don’t have that problem. Until this year. I went down. After a quick trip to Munich, I arrived home not feeling great, itchy watery eyes, sneezing – something was afoot. I usually shake that off and continue on. Or so I thought. What I have always done in past years was raid the pharmacy. I had totally bought in to the notion of using cold medication to continue with my life as normal. My typically feelings from a cold are actually the side effects of the drugs. All symptoms that I am truly sick and should stay home in bed are masked over.

When I left my corporate job in 2016, cold medicines and sleeping pills stayed behind as well. For the first time in decades, I truly felt what it was like to have a cold for the better part of 2 weeks. I was an infectious mess. I couldn’t leave the house for many days at a stretch. I got out of all my responsibilities in order to rest and take care of myself. It has been the most self-indulgent period of my life which I can remember. Not that it has been enjoyable to be sick. But to allow the proper time to let a cold run its course in a natural way has been interesting.

It was a daily struggle to judge how I felt and then honor what my body was telling me. I felt guilty for not pushing on. I was so used to discounting how I felt as an extraneous piece of information, with rather low priority. To write these things now seems strange. Why would a logical person not rest and recover when they are sick and tired? I guess stress guides us towards odd decisions sometimes.

Luckily, the fifth season of weather raged outside as I moped in bed wondering when I was going to feel better again. The snow fell, schools closed, deliveries were delayed and the streets were quiet. Even though the white stuff has remained on the ground, with more to come in the forecast, life has somewhat resumed to normal. The West coast is getting a reminder that we are indeed part of Canada, a land which largely gets a fair amount of snow in the winter.

So we adapt, the best we can. Even though tributaries of the Fraser river have ice chunks and shady patches of earth are still covered in white, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The days are getting longer. Spring is coming. Chickadees are singing in the yard. There is nothing more enjoyable than the psychological effect of daylight and warmth on the horizon. As sure as the fact that the world spins on an axis, Spring is in the air. We survived another Winter. Phew.

By contrast, in the Southern hemisphere, late Summer is giving way to Fall. The days are still nice and warm, but the nights have a pleasant cooling effect. The winds are strong, almost carrying the change of season with the strength of their gusts. I know all this because last year we avoided the mess of winter on the West coast by being in South Africa, (among many other warmer places). The only strange thing about that was the month of the calendar did not jive with the experience outside. After almost 5 decades of winter in February, it is a trick of the mind to live in something completely different.

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” -Oscar Wilde

It is a strange, almost primal connection we have to the weather. While we mostly live in a bubble of protection in the form of vehicles, homes and offices, it doesn’t stop the preoccupation. Asking about the weather, commenting and complaining is a habit ingrained into our behaviour. It goes way back, I suppose, from an evolutionary perspective. There was a time when our very survival, day to day, depended on suitable preparation for what mother nature was throwing at us. Those days are gone, yet our fascination persists.

The human experience is a complicated one. Seemingly unrelated situations are interconnected. Something as inconspicuous as the weather can have a lasting impact on our moods. Intellectually, it does not make a lot of sense. Why should it matter one way or another when we are enclosed in a temperature controlled building, if there is rain or sunshine? Linking personal emotions to a condition which is far outside of our control seems like a recipe for unhappiness.

I’ll take what comes. In the Nordics, there is a saying which goes something like this – ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’. I have to agree with that one. The choice I have each morning, which really makes for a good day is to wear the right coat. At this time of year I have a long down jacket with wool gloves. Some days, I add a scarf. I am toasty warm as the last winds of winter howl.

As Spring quickly approaches I am busy planning the first CreaSpaTreat, to be held in in my hometown on the West coast of Canada. If you are curious to see how this unfolds in more detail, stay tuned to dailycreatives. Don’t forget to take this opportunity to share with like-minded friends and family. The 8 pillars of wellness are the foundation of crea.spa.treat. Start with a 5-minute daily practice, take the challenge, deepen your experience with the online retreat or ‘in-real-life’. Whatever you have time for, join us to create a life you don’t need a vacation from.

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