In the world beyond my front doorstep, the inhabitants have natural ways of observing the changing seasons. When Winter turns toward Spring there is the undeniable fecundity wafting in on mild warm breezes. Spring becomes Summer with the scorching heat of the noonday sun and the enervating humidity that wraps its damp blanket around the world outside. Summer gives way gradually to the endgame of Autumn with its lowering sun and the bursting colors of the leaves accompanied by the nibble of cooler air anticipating the bite of Winter’s cold. Winter’s peace, after the onslaught of blizzards, is a quietly rejuvenating time of restful hibernation beneath the snowy insulation.
I, however, have no need for such natural indicators of the changing seasons. I need only look toward the front door, the side door, all the windows that look out onto the world, and every available horizontal, and a good many vertical, spaces in this house we inhabit. I am married to a compulsive seasonal decorator. Not a season or holiday is allowed free passage through our world without the appropriate decoration to herald its passing.
I know that the Halloween season is over because there are no ghostly stickons on the windows nor a jack-o-lantern on the porch steps. The lighted pumpkin is gone from the window, the witchy broomstick put away. In their place are turkeys and uncarved pumpkins and brightly colored leaves stuck to the windows. The turkeys are lit with tiny twinkle lights of indeterminate color that strive to be festive. By these harbingers of the season I know that we must be nearing Thanksgiving. I have no need to step outside to experience the weather of the new season.
I have no need for a calendar, since I’ll know that Christmas is imminent by the proliferation of red and green decorations around the house that will bury us in their festive gaiety. And once that season of all seasons is past, there will be a short respite until Valentines Day and Presidents day and Groundhog Day and then the first sign of Spring when Easter hops into the picture.
All these seasonal changes are marked by a prodigious supply of colored twinkle lights used to draw attention to the turkeys and pumpkins and Santas and hearts and bunnies. Twinkle lights are the one common denominator in all her decorating schemes. Mary loves twinkle lights. She has them everywhere. I am convinced that global warming is directly caused by her ever-increasing consumption of energy powering her supply of twinkle lights. She has even informed me that her funeral is to be lit with them, her casket wrapped and swaddled with strings of twinkle lights.
Now I am haunted by the disquieting notion that if the lights ever go out, I won’t know what season it is. If the decorations somehow fail to adorn the windows, porches, and walls I won’t know what to celebrate or whether a gift is appropriate. If an energy crisis dims the lights, I will be left in the dark more ways than one. I might even have to stick my head out the door to test the air outside to give me a hint about what season I am currently celebrating. Unlike the rest of the world outside my door, I rely on her marking the seasons with her lights and wreaths and stickon images to keep me up to date on the seasonal changes occurring. I may need to get out more.