Resistance is observed when an animal endures winter but changes in ways such as color and musculature. The color of the fur or plumage are changed to white in order to be confused with snow and thus, to retain their cryptic coloration year round. Examples are the ptarmigan, the arctic fox, the weasel, the white-tailed jack rabbit or the mountain hare. – Wikipedia
Winter is here in Boweltown. You see it in the trees. When summer turns to fall, the trees turn, yes. But this is different. As a California girl, I never experienced more than the liquid maple trees lining our streets turning and the falling leaves giving the gardeners more work in raking them up. Pretty and comment worthy, but not all that special. Fall was marked more by the dew on the grass marking our shoes as we left for school in the morning or the need to wear one more layer.
But here, in Boweltown, my house is surrounded by mixed forests – deciduous getting friendly with evergreens, plumping the scenery, giving depth to what seems like a movie set at times.
One day the trees are the deep dark green of late summer and the very next day golden delicious. Then the next day the colours deepen. The ivies turn crimson and the forests varied shades of red, orange and yellow, like a black and white movie colorized in Technicolour by an overzealous editor. As fall deepens, the colours remind me of my sister’s burnished red hair. I think of her every day as I drive to the store, walk in the fields. The wind in the trees like her hair when she walks.
Every day is more beautiful then the next. I can’t help but to think it simply cannot get any more beautiful and yet it does, squeezing my heart out of sheer wonder, seeing time pass before my eyes.
California girls never notice time until the lines on our foreheads and the crinkles of our eyes inform us that we are no longer 19-years-old and perhaps we should wear our skirts a little longer. Our summers are marked by festivals – Cinco de Mayo, Bastille Day. We know autumn is upon us during the sunny weekend of the Folsom Street Fair. In San Francisco, we know its autumn because the cashmere is put out on display and there are more varieties of tights.
In Boweltown, every day is a reminder that time is moving and there is nothing you can do but hold on to the memory of the moment when the wind gently blows through the forest, a cacophony of colours rain down into the meadow.
Then one day, they’re gone, those leaves, lining our sidewalks instead of our heavens, leaving the trees cold and naked. Winter is here. The dull grey of the sky no longer offsets the rainbow of autumn. It is the leaden backdrop of a long, dark winter. The trees had warned of its coming, but the beauty of autumn can fool you into believing, like youth, it’ll always be there. Before you know it, you’re forty and frosted and sitting on a barstool wondering what happened to the glory days, they were just here.
I imagine wartime Germany in winter. The colours are those of military machines and despair. The sun and the animals disappear until March and I don’t blame them. In my area, the hunters find deer and wild boar and shots occasionally echo in my meadow providing perhaps too much fodder for my wartime simile.
The rain falls in apathetic drops, not caring enough to rage, but present enough to wish that it would. Deep into winter we get an occasional snow, a reward for holding on for so long to the gray world. Like three dimensions to the denizens of Flatland, snow shocks us, titillates and then is gone, leaving only a vague feeling of something more.
This is one of the lessons Germany has taught me. Time passes, seasons change and they don’t ask your permission. But rather than fearing the change, I’ve learned to enjoy the moment, learn what my puny brain can and look forward to the next.
I used to live my life like I was body surfing. Swim out far and deep because that is how you get the longest ride, the best waves, but know that a big one is coming that you can’t dive beneath and it will knock you out. I learned very young how to hold my breath and let the water move me as it wanted because you get hurt fighting a wave. If you just let it take you in, let yourself go as fluid as the water, you’ll be okay.
Germany, perhaps being as landlocked as I am, has taught me a different lesson, a gentler lesson. As the wrinkles around my eyes and the lines across my forehead remind me of my days in the sun, Germany reminds me to pay attention to the sweet saltiness of the moment. And I am.