Words by Dredheza Maloku
Art by Ana Ovilo
This year I lived in summer for what was essentially nine months. Being in California for the coldest and bleakest months of London was a dream. I skipped the ‘January blues’, the late snow that somehow always arrives in February and the all-round biting London cold that we all love to complain about when we’re walking against the wind across Waterloo bridge. Plunging myself into the warm California sunshine, sparkling Pacific water and laid-back surfer vibes undoubtedly amplified by such a perfect year-round climate, I felt extremely content. Living in the blissful dream of a perpetual summer, I didn’t mourn the other seasons I was missing out on back home. However, since returning to London, returning to those autumn days where we seem to rapidly experience every single season at once, has left me thinking; maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to look enviously upon those languishing in 6 month summers. Perhaps a fond reminder of the merits of the distinct seasons which challenge us year by year, might be just what we need to start 2017.
Take autumn; the orange hues and crunchy leaves exude nothing but beauty and anticipation of the coming of Halloween and – if you’re American – Thanksgiving. Autumn is a gentle and contemplative season and the transition from the exuberant and playful Summer into a golden, pumpkin-spiced Autumn never fails to please. There’s something warming and inspiring about walking through Hyde Park when the pathways are strewn with crimson-gold leaves; they may no longer be on the trees but remain alive nonetheless through their mesmerising varying shades of blood-red golden-brown across the parks and pavements. This is in fact one instance where the American word for something differs from the English yet actually makes sense: Fall. The fallen leaves merit having a season named after their ethereal fall from the trees of summer. As a child, a friend once told me that catching a falling leaf means you make a wish and for some reason this superstition stuck. Ever since then, I shamelessly make childlike attempts to catch falling autumn leaves and, even when this fails miserably, it momentarily takes me back to the awe I felt for autumn even as a child. So, whilst it was awesome to experience the blissful pulse of a constant summer in California, living in one season forever would probably get tedious; and you wouldn’t even realise it until you are plunged out of that season.
There is something pleasantly sobering about living through the changing seasons – the cyclicality is reassuring. A SoCal summer is perfect in a number of ways, and it certainly has a hugely positive effect on the citizens; you only have to spend about ten minutes with a Californian before you notice their relaxed drawl and generally laid-back attitude, undoubtedly a result of growing up in the sun which is scientifically associated with uplifting ones mood. But do they even know what they’re missing? Each season has its own charms and pitfalls just like everything else. Living in the same one forever would surely dull your senses to the distinct passing of time; you would only have holidays such as Easter or Halloween or even birthdays, to mark the passing of the year; the natural world around you would be a constant.
The Mamas and the Papa’s weren’t lying when they sang that you’d be ‘safe and warm’ living in LA. Still, returning from my own California dream which had me basking in the glow of San Diego sunshine in February as my family and friends withered away in the London cold, has given me pause for thought. Eternal sunshine may give you a spotless mind, but we shouldn’t be so quick to wish away our more transient seasons. After all, it’s the constants in our life that we first start to take for granted and though our mercurial weather has a tendency to shake things up when we least expect it, there might be something quite special about that.