A Seasonal Breakdown

As the scent of the air changes with the approaching spring, I reflect on the drastically different seasons in Ohio and how much I value them. Even the abrupt changes that occur have a special place in my heart. I don’t think I could ever live in warm-weather states like Florida or the Carolinas, where the return to warm weather is always a day or two away.

Blanketed By Winter

I like enduring the extreme temperatures familiar to one season because the payoff is much richer in the end. I recall earlier this year, just after the holidays, temperatures in Cleveland during the first week of January were so unseasonably warm that my wife and I threw a family cookout the day before taking our youngest back to college after Christmas break. The next day, I drove through blizzard conditions to get him to school on time. It was about 60 degrees that Saturday and below 20 the next day. When I returned from the long drive, (turnpike was 30 mph), I keyed into the house, put some playoff football on the television, lit the fireplace, and crawled under a big comforter blanket until my wife woke me a few hours later for hot soup and freshly made bread from the oven. Winter had finally arrived, and I was so into it! Yes, it meant inconvenience and shoveling and scraping windows and all that, but there was no yard work, no push to “get outside in the fresh air,” no need to travel too far. It got dark early, the annoying air conditioner hum was several months away, and the lazy, well-rested gift of winter stood on exhibit on the other side of my windows.

Emerging In Spring

And then that winter grind eventually gets tiring, and I don’t want to shovel anymore, or dress so heavily, or pull up that extra blanket. I feel cooped up and want to get out of the house and breathe deeply, feel the warmth of the sun, and get my hands in the soil to see what I can grow and create. The joggers who sprint past my house wave enthusiastically and the trees begin their “greening.” Various families get together for some Friday fish fries at the local Catholic churches, and the open windows in the house begin to deliver the excited shouts and screams of kids at play, light-hearted and looking forward to the end of school and the summer months ahead.

Soaked In Summer

And suddenly that arrives, too; the heat of summer in this part of Northeast Ohio usually waits until noon or so most days, so breakfast on the porch is typically pleasant, although there tends to be a few weeks of dense humidity every year that take that away, too. But many people love that heat and that “sauna feeling” as summer peaks. Again, for me, it’s reason to find a good pool or stay inside with air conditioning (an absolute gift from heaven for someone like me, who hates being too warm). I muddle through a few uncomfortable months and then the best season of the year arrives.

The Smell Of Fall

Like no other season, fall approaches in the most secretive and teasing way. It may be the subtle browning of a few leaves on a maple tree. It may show itself when the “back to school” signs begin to pop up in stores. Or it may be something I notice, like the neighborhood baseball field being suddenly quiet after all of the shouting week in and week out throughout the summer. I may spot a kid in shoulder pads zooming by on his bike, helmet draped over the handlebars, heading to practice; football can’t be too far away. One of my favorite signs of fall is overhearing the local high school marching band practicing at the stadium or the devotion to orange, brown, and yellow in all of the area stores. But like spring, fall has a certain smell to it. It is that above all that lures the promise of cooling temperatures, Friday night high school football, the approaching holidays, and that general feeling of good will. The air is so crisp, and the colors are so breathtaking that I rarely can find two days in a row in autumn when the things that usually get to me actually get to me. In their youth, my kids knew I could never refuse them a trip to a pumpkin patch, a hayride, or even a haunted house or two. There was just something so pleasurable in fall activities. It was so much a part of my early family life, too. We all raked leaves together to help Dad, and back then we were allowed to burn them—another great fall “smell” memory. I was married in the fall, as were my sisters; each of us has keepsake photos of the family under golden-leaved trees and crimson carpets of fallen oak leaves. Yes, there’s no doubt that fall is my favorite of the four seasons. The romantic in me would have it no other way.

Take It In Stride

However, back to my earlier point: Why would one choose to live in a place where the change of seasons was not available? What’s a Christmas season with no snow? A Halloween without trick-or-treat super heroes wearing parkas under their costumes? An Easter without bonnets, dresses, and corsages crushed under winter coats and hats? Stifling hot graduation parties where thousands are stuffed into a room for three hours waiting to hear the two seconds when our kid’s name is called. Who could ask for more, right?

I guess there may be some logic in moving to a place where one can wear the same clothes for the whole year—where the car heater is used to take the chill out of the morning air instead of melt a chunk of ice 6 inches thick off the windshield, where one doesn’t need to leave a snow shovel on the porch year round because “you never know?”

But for now, it’s all about spring and those days that get a little warmer as the months wear on. I’m looking for a good fish fry for the family, and thinking about what to plant in the garden.

It won’t be long before those dogs are on the grill and baseball is on the radio.

Ah, life. Thank heaven.

Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at ron@northstarpubs.com.