Autumn, Thy Name Is Big Jerk
I used to think about the seasons like days of the week:
Winter was Monday to Thursday, a seemingly interminable time span that we soldier through because the entire world is against my idea of breaking things up, making Wednesday an additional day of rest. I know there are those of you out there who think, "How lazy." But really, the tiresome race to be the leading economy could still continue if only human beings were trustworthy and everyone made a pact that no one work on Wednesday; then everyone would proportionately slow down. See?
Spring was Friday, not quite there but with the sweet promise of the weekend making everything just a touch more tolerable, or intolerable, if you really detested your job.
Summer was Saturday, with everyone moving at a slower, more expansive pace, savoring this one short day however they want.
And then there was Autumn, which of course was Sunday, a day shadowed by the looming awareness that whispers: another workweek coming up; still, for what it is worth, we try to enjoy Sunday, though I often find I've barely put on my sandals and the sun's already setting.
That was how I used to see it. To be fair, Spring, Summer, and Winter have remained somewhat reliable. Except that Summer seems to grow shorter every year, and I blame it entirely on Autumn--an increasingly cold, unreliable, big jerk of a season.
What was the weather like today? Biting rain. How about last week? Chilly rain with a dollop of typhoon. And the week before? A seared typhoon served with a spicy typhoon reduction...sorry, I'm getting a bit hungry. My point is that Autumn used to be kind and sympathetic. It knew what was lurking malevolently around the bend, and so it tried its best to ease us gently into Winter's frigid clutches. But now? I don't believe I ever saw milder days followed by nights just a touch cooler. One day it's tank tops and flip flops, the next I find myself freefalling toward winter: icy bed sheets at night, ski socks around the house, oden, the frozen mango smoothie taken off the menu at Tully's, steep slopes of mandarin oranges in the produce section (I do like mandarins, but I wasn't expecting them so soon, and one whiff has me thinking of Christmas. Yuck.)... And the coup de grace: girls in town wearing thick woolen scarves. Scarves, I tell you--which itch and limit air supply. To be fair, young Japanese girls staunchly believe nothing makes them cuter than a long scarf and knee-length socks, so I'm sure there are those who wait all year with bated breath for that first slight dip in temperatures. Still. Still.
But I shouldn't complain. I may be cold inside my home, but there are almost 100,000 people who are cold and homeless because of the earthquake that hit Saturday. I can't help wondering what will happen to the people whose homes were completely destroyed. What if they don't have anybody to turn to? Winter is almost here.
The scary thing about earthquakes is how abruptly they come upon you and how little you can do. On Saturday, there was absolutely nothing, no subtle warm-up vibrations, just the entire ground beneath us swaying out of nowhere. How must it have felt for those people in Niigata who were going about life one second and then feeling their world literally breaking apart in the next. When I was in Des Moines, there was the occassional threat of a tornado, but there were also early warnings. I remember once we were instructed to go down into the basement and wait it out. The tornado never came, but if it had, we would have been safe. When you're in the middle of an earthquake, there's nowhere to run that can ensure complete safety. In fact I read that it's the people who try to "escape" the earthquake by running to find a safe place that are often hurt or killed.
Now I've just learned that 67 people died because of Typhoon 23 last week, and that 20 are still missing.
I know I can't blame Autumn for the earthquake and the other natural disasters, but this really hasn't been its best year.