Fugue Season

Welcome to Hoth! Time to get the snowblower out! (Source: Star Wars: The Old Republic videogame)

In recent decades, Americans have become a summery people, migrating in historic numbers away from cold, snowy, grey-skied places to more “temperate” climes.

Set aside for a moment the fact that “temperate” usually means beastly, feverishly, shirt-clingingly hot much of the year.  (I admit it: really hot weather makes me cranky.)

And places that are truly “perfect” are generally crowded, or getting crowded  (I admit it:  crowds in large doses make me even crankier.

But the real reason I can’t join the flock heading south is seasons.  I know it’s sort of trite, but I love the changing year.  I love the way the world I live in becomes, in very real ways, a different world every three or four months.

In geek terms, I get to spend part of each year on Endor and part of it on Naboo.  (Go here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)

But my absolute favorite time (or times) of year is fugue season.  These are the funky weeks when I swim in a lake and ski to toll road at Whiteface.

Or when — as we did last week — we’re still gleaning fresh vegetables out of the garden, and I’m scrabbling over ice on Ampersand Mountain.

This physical embodiment of change and time passing captures the weird scales at which our world works.

We are blessed to exist in a cosmos that functions in geological time, but also in bursts of immediacy.

I lived for a time in a cabin on the Copper River in Alaska and I remember listening to the ice break-up in spring — it was like artillery fire after the silent expanse of winter.

The truth, of course, is that it’s always fugue season.  We humans are — both individually and collectively — a very small organism living on a planet that is changing all the time, in ways that we influence and ways that we don’t.

Usually, those tiny, cumulative evolutions are lost to us at our Mayfly scale of blink-and-you-miss-it consciousness.

But for those of us who live in the North Country, those big changes are visible, at least symbolically, week-by-week.  I mean, a few days ago, I woke up and suddenly I was living on Hoth.

How cool is that?



7 Comments on “Fugue Season”

  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    After election season the real Brian Mann comes out. Bigfoot, the planet Hoth…

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    I too like the four seasons with autumn and winter being my favorite.
    Let the wimps move to where it is warmer and if they move to the southwest where it is both hot and dry, they just better never look for any water from the Great Lakes. Learn to drink sand.

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  3. Ken Hall says:

    Brian, As one of my step-daughters was wont to say “ab-fab”. I too love living in the North Country for the seasons the not too hot of Summer, unfortunately major changes there since I was a young-un, and the cold of Winter, also a changing; but my favorite the perfection of Fall. I was never all that enamored with the MUD of Spring.

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  4. Michael Greer says:

    When I moved up here from Ohio, thirty-some years ago, I was obsessed with the idea of building a house that would comfortably withstand -40 degrees, without breaking the bank. Sure anybody could put in a bigger furnace, or build an igloo of styrofoam four feet thick, but my thoughts were more middle ground, and affordable than that. I spent a fair amount of time drawing in my notebooks, and trying to figure out the ultimate workable plan.
    Thirty years later, my focus has changed because the climate has changed. What used to happen in a ” geological time-span” has happened to us within a human lifespan, and at this rate (of change), our children will be mighty uncomfortable. These days my thoughts are on designing the North Country house of the future…one that will remain comfortable when the heat wave exceeds 100 degrees and stays there for six weeks. Again, anybody can crank up the air conditioner, but many (most) can’t afford that kind of electric bill.
    Withstanding the heat is more important socially and societally than surviving the cold. People who are cold get depressed and sluggish. People who are too hot get crazy, cranky, and mean.
    Don’t try to poo,poo this argument with numbers. Those who will point out that it’s only two degrees hotter than it was in the old days have read too many overly cautious science papers. Here in the real world, it was damned hot, and damned dry this summer. Our gardening season has gone from 90 days in the past, to nearly 180 days this year. Summer air conditioning bills are beginning to rival winter heating costs, and for the poor, there’s no way to cool off with firewood.
    I moved here all those years ago, to get away from the long, muddy, gray, Ohio winters. So far, this winter looks just like those of my youth.

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  5. Paul says:

    Michael, geotherml is the ticket. deep down it is always warmer or colder than it is on top.

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  6. bob cratchit says:

    “I get to spent…” Edit much?

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  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay, the Bigfoot post is far in the rear view mirror but noted local Bigfoot Scholar Paul Bartholomew is out with a new book on Champ!!!!

    I can’t find any links to his new book but here’s a Bigfoot story.


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