I confess I like to talk about the weather: it’s something we all share, but something each person experiences differently. It’s also a way to connect with strangers who don’t share your language in a non-threatening way, to enjoy a gentle and harmonious exchange (even with the old lady at the gym who insists that February is the coldest month, all evidence, anomalous (admittedly) high-teen temperatures, for example, to the contrary … She gets a ribbing for that and all is well.)
The day to day is one thing; seasons, quite another. I don’t know why it irritates me so but it does, when Japanese people announce–marvelingly–that ‘Japan has four seasons’. If I am feeling particularly grumpy I will ask what about the rainy season, or, what about the typhoon season? Having four (general) seasons is not that unusual most places in the world, folks.
It is true, however, or truer, to say that the Japanese celebrate four seasons. Seasons are honored exceptionally beautifully in this country and this sensitivity embodies a consciousness which we would do well to attune ourselves to as we slow down, simplify and align our lives with more balanced, ecological virtues and outlooks.
Part of my irritation is about lazy linguistics. (Equally, I suppose, it could be a formula that I am not wholly comprehending, where what is said carries different meanings according to one’s cultural ears?) It is surely easier to trot out ‘Japan has four seasons’ than ‘Japan celebrates four seasons’, though far less interesting by my lights.
From my point view, what is most interesting, seasonally speaking, is the old luni-solar calendar which marks a change every 5 or so days: micro-seasons they call them. In all, there are 72. How delightfully complex! For each cycle, there are things coming out of or going into the earth, the river, the sea or the sky; there are songbirds, fish, animals, and the behaviour of wind, clouds, blossoms. We have just entered the second of the 72 micro-cycles which you can read about here (and though I have yet to catch the song of the nightingale, I have heard a few songlines, a warming up, here and there, early in the mornings.) Download the gorgeous app, 72 seasons, a liturgy of the earth, that includes happenings in the natural world, poetry, art, and food: the good, real things of Life. (Though it is Japanese in its orientation, you could make a project of attending to your own zone with care … )
This truly marvellous ancient study is a great reminder of the wisdom in cosmic rhythms, a call to attend, an invitation to participate.