By Emma Roth, Nature Educator
Time moves faster as you age, or at least your perception of time does. This is a phenomenon that I’m sure many people have experienced; I certainly have. Summer months used to be endless as a child enjoying a break from school. Now they seem to fly by. Each yearly milestone, like holidays, birthday, vacation, seem to repeat at a faster rate.
This feeling is compounded by an interesting cultural movement I’ve noticed: a desire to rush towards the next holiday or into the next season. It was July of this year that I saw the first Halloween decorations in a store. While some people were excited by this, and the confirmation that a new season was coming, I was almost angry. We were less than halfway through summer. Why were we trying to push past it so quickly?
It wasn’t just holiday decorations. Fall flavors and scents started to crop up everywhere. Starbucks started selling their popular pumpkin spice products in August. Meanwhile, the days were still hot (or at least as hot as they get here in western NY), and long. It didn’t feel like fall, but fall was being forced on us.
It seems like the next season is getting pushed earlier and earlier each year, and it’s all seasons that are victim to this. I suspect that peppermint and eggnog will be here much sooner than the cold and snow it should accompany, and later bunny and flower imagery will show up long before the ice and snow all melts.
But what drives this rush to get to the next season? Some people may say it’s purely consumerism, and a way for companies to make some extra money. This may be a large part of it, but there’s something else going on as well. Why are people so eager to buy this seasonal merchandise so early? In some ways, I can understand it. It is natural to be looking forward to the next thing. Whether that is just the weekend, an upcoming vacation, or a get-together with friends. Changing seasons are no different.
The changing of seasons is always exciting. New sights, smells, and activities make life interesting. I absolutely love the beginning of each season. While I love each season, by the end of one, I am ready for the next. However, in this age of pushing seasons and holidays early, it feels like the joy of the changing seasons is minimized. By the time fall (or winter, spring, and summer) is actually here, we’ve already been steeped in the sights and smells associated with it, even though they may be artificial. The arrival of the new season stops feeling special.
New seasons haven’t lost everything that makes them special. While us humans can try to get a jumpstart on the sights, sounds, and smells of the seasons, we have yet to control nature itself, despite our best efforts. It is still exciting to see the first trees begin to change colors, the first snow start to fall, the first flowers push out of the ground. These are events that, while trending earlier each year, cannot be rushed by impatient humans.
This is what keeps the changing seasons special. I have to remind myself to focus on these natural changes, and not get swept up in the artificial ones that humans have created. Sure, I may smell warm fall spices when I enter a store, or see pumpkins begin to pop up everywhere, but when I go outside, I feel the heat and see the deep green leaves on the trees. Despite what some stores may want me to think, it is still summer, and I will enjoy it while I wait patiently for fall.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk and birds of prey can be viewed anytime the trails are open. The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it opens at 1 p.m. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.