A new season, A new bird

When I was a kid, well, really until my late twenties, I knew a new season had arrived based on obvious clues:

CLUES FROM THE WEATHER

Spring: It’s going to stop snowing any day now. It has to. It can’t go from 78 and sunny one day, to 36 and dreary the next. Wait, yes it can (see fall weather).

spring snow

What spring looks like in Denver
(Image courtesy Warren Brown via Flickr)

Summer: Someone please find me a shade tree. STAT. I think my skin is melting off.

I thought an image of my skin melting would be too icky, so I used this pic instead.

I thought an image of my skin melting would be too icky, so I used this pic instead.
(Image courtesy Steve Hankin via Flickr)

Fall: Uh, oh. It’s gonna get cold. Any day now. And it will happen like this: Monday – 70 degrees, Tuesday – 64, Wednesday – 72. Maybe winter won’t come? Thursday – 74. Friday – 69. Saturday 28 degrees! HA! Take that beautiful fall weather!

Denver Snow

How I see fall and winter in Denver. (Like I’ve said before, I do exaggerate sometimes)

Winter: Did someone move Colorado to the North Pole when I wasn’t looking? *Reference same picture as above*

CLUES BASED ON THE SCHOOL YEAR

Fall: Crap school is starting. How many weeks until my next break?

back to school

Image courtesy USAG – Humphreys via Flickr

Winter: At least we have two weeks off for Christmas. And they won’t expect us to do any work the two weeks before either. It’s like a whole month off!

advent calendar

How a kid sees the month of December
(Courtesy Rene MT via Flickr)

Spring: A week-long break for what? I don’t know. Just to celebrate spring? I’ll take it.

spring break

Image via Daniel Ramirez via Flickr

Summer: Utter and complete, joyous freedom!

(Courtesy Craigfinlay via Flickr)

(Courtesy Craigfinlay via Flickr)

CLUES FROM TV COMMERICALS

Spring: In three months I’ll be able to ditch the mittens and go to the pool and have water gun fights just like the folks on TV. Until then it’s just cruel to show people having summer fun. Oh and don’t forget to do your Christmas shopping.

Pool

Image courtesy David Goehring via Flickr

Summer: Why are you already advertising notebooks and colored pencils? It’s July for crying out loud. I hate you Wal-Mart. And by the way, school supplies can make great Christmas presents too.

Colored pencils

Image courtesy Luxt Designs via Flickr

Fall: It’s Christmas time! Really? I thought it was the end of October. All right, put away the scarecrow and pumpkins. I didn’t really want to give thanks anyway.

Christmas in October

Image courtesy Jo Naylor via Flickr

Winter: Now that Christmas is over, there are still more things to buy. And they’ll be on sale. Really, you should just start shopping for Christmas now.

Christmas ad

Image courtesy e r j k p r u n c z y k via Flickr

Now that I’m a bit older, I notice more than the clues above. I notice the little things–small details that my self-absorbed, youthful self never noticed. It’s funny how once the world stops revolving around you, you notice more of the world around you.

In the spring, I never noticed the first shoots of green emerging from the earth, or the first ladybug babies snacking on aphids. My younger self only noticed the obvious. It was getting warmer and lighter.

In the summer, I never noticed how certain perennials thrived in the 100 degree heat, while others wilted and browned. My younger self noticed it was hot.

In the fall, I saw the leaves turn and knew it was getting colder.

But now I have a new way of knowing fall is here. In addition to the fact that it’s cold, sometimes snowy, and apparently already Christmas, I know summer is behind us because of a small migratory bird. A bird that I never noticed before. In all honesty, I didn’t notice many birds when I was young, and probably could have only identified five that lived in Colorado.

But as I grew older things such as birds started to interest me, so I studied up on all the little guys that frequented my feeder.  The one I’m talking about today is the Dark-eyed Junco.

Snow Junco

These little guys arrive in Denver every fall and hang out under our feeder or our shrubs happily eating millet or whatever else they scrounge up. And then, one day in  spring, they all take flight and head north or to the mountains for the summer.

Last Monday, the first teeny, tiny snowflakes fell in the city. It was the same day I noticed the first pair of Juncos in the backyard.

That night I asked my husband to guess who I saw in the backyard. With some prompting (they come every winter, I’m talking about a bird, with dark eyes and their name begins with J) he finally got it.

My younger self would have relied on the snowflakes to know fall was here and winter was coming. Today, I don’t need the flakes. The Juncos are fair warning.

What are your favorite clues the seasons are changing? Do you notice things you never used to? Are you finished with your Christmas shopping? Do you exaggerate how cold or hot it is? Are you secretly happy when the back to school commercials begin? Please, share your thoughts!

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8 thoughts on “A new season, A new bird

  1. geanieroake says:

    As I was reading your description of fall I thought, wait a minute, does she live in Utah? Colorado huh, close enough. Don’t you hate how you’re not even surprised when it snows in September? I used to live in Texas where they didn’t even have seasons, so I love that we get a change of weather, just wish it wasn’t so drastic.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      I think I would really miss the seasons, but like you said it feels really drastic. I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but I feel like spring and fall are so short and summer and winter go on forever. The worst is when you think winter is over, no more snow, no more cold snaps and then boom – 28 degrees and snow.

  2. Y. Zheng says:

    my favorite clues of the season is changing: leaves turn orange and yellow and falls to the ground and the cold wind rolls around.
    It is always a joy to see that beautiful scenery when I got school. Of course, when fall comes, it means I have to get ready for winter and that means getting ready for snow. Fortunately, I never have to do Christmas shopping.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      The fall colors are amazing, but like you said it means winter is coming. I don’t mind winter, I just wish it was a little shorter. By the time February rolls around I’m over it and ready for some warmth and foliage. I just remind myself that it makes me appreciate spring and summer that much more.

  3. Marcy says:

    I hate summer. Every bit of it. The sun, the heat, the bugs, the way it doesn’t even cool down enough at night for me to get a good night’s sleep. So for me, I remember something my mother said the year before she passed away. We were in the car. It was late August. She told me she could feel fall in the air since there was a bit of crispness in the air at night that we just don’t get in summer. I told her than I couldn’t feel that until mid-September and that she must be dreaming. But now, because I always remember her saying that, I actually do feel just a tinge of crispness to the night air even in late August. I look forward to it.

  4. elainecanham says:

    We don’t get drastic weather in Britain (not in your terms, anyway) we get rain. It’s raining at the moment. The long range weather forecast? Rain. And some nice blustery showers. Followed by drizzle. And I can’t find my umbrella.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Yikes! Sounds more like the east coast here, or the pacific northwest. I didn’t own an umbrella until my thirties and still hardly ever use it.

      We hardly ever get rain in Colorado (it’s all prairie and rocky mountains). Just snow, alternating with sun. And when it does rain it’s usually just late afternoon or at night and only for a couple of hours. It’s actually usually quite pleasant. I think I just like to complain.

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