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Commentary: A Love Poem to the Season

By Rawlins Gilliland, KERA 90.1 Commentator

Dallas, TX –

My entire life, I've heard weather people and newscasters inevitably anoint a day that is sunny and clear and 75 degrees as being "perfect". And why not? It is. But I contend that almost any day - and the season that contains it - offers its own potential perfection. To christen one time of year or some assigned prototype day as being the universally accepted ideal strikes me as presumptuously perverse; like saying only Caucasian blondes are pretty. Overcast days with an icy 37 degree mist need not apply! Never mind that knowing the outside world is frigid warms my heart with its cocooning, austere solitude.

I read recently that merely nine percent of Americans call winter their favorite season. I'm one of those nine percent because, not that long ago, I walked on an abandoned wooded golf course in the snowy slick whiteness. And my dog and I were both warm and happy. The moist crystals against my face, making my skin - and my thoughts about life - feel refreshed, redefined. It was a most nearly perfect day; the frozen ponds, the coyotes in the woods frolicking in the crunchy leaves. The sky an eerie grey blue smoky jewel. The crisp slicing air in my nose and lungs reminding me what it is to inhale happiness.

And then comes Spring. To not like Spring is to disavow life because its healing power is profound. Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her poem "Renaissance" that she feared God had "made Spring too beautiful this year". And so I feared this morning as we walked those same wooded trails that only weeks before had been lunar lonely. The perfumed air was honeysuckle while white blossom trees encircled naturalized magenta redbud trees that were once Dallas yard landscape staples. Chartreuse peek-a-boo pea-size leaves made the imminent birth of the warm seasons known.

How miserable summer becomes on those same lovely trails. The stifling humidity and oppressive heat will again make spontaneous walks an early morning mandate. Yet, for all I am denied in summer, I could never discount its beauty. The sound of splashing water. Children playing. Barbeque and summer nights when the stars seem like old childhood friends. Summer offers nostalgic escape even as it makes escape seem urgent.

So what of Fall. How can one not wonder at Fall's wistful lament. It tells us that another year is coming to a close, and winter will be proof. Just as its younger sister summer had allowed us to feel fearless and free, Fall warns us to prioritize. And with every emotion I feel defined by Fall, my inner soul anticipates my first love's return; the euphoric aloneness that is Winter.

If beauty lies in the eyes of a beholder, so too it is within each season. No matter how it hurts to know my winter friend has passed, how can any of us let a Spring day pass unloved? To race through March and April, too fast to see or feel it, is like listening to romantic music on "fast forward" instead of play'.

But then, as Millay once warned, it might be too beautiful to bear.

Rawlins Gilliland in a National Endowment for the Arts Master Poet. He lives in Dallas.

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