Saturday, September 15, 2012

Buggered Seasons

Fall's an interesting time when yer working in academia. It brings new students, new committees, new perspectives on old work - even new peers and office mates and, of course, a huge pile of new work. In Calgary, the weather is typically lovely in the fall; with hot sunny days and crisp nights that beg for bike rides and glasses of wine with friends.

Fall, in other words, is my spring. It's a time of rebirth and a renewed focus on my work. Typically, I suffer in the spring months. My allergies flare up, my deadlines loom, the schizophrenic weather patterns wreak havoc on my commute (typically by bike) with alternating rain and freeze patterns that turn the roads into shuffleboards of death. Melting snow reveals gravel and garbage, I suddenly realize that I packed on 20 lbs over the winter, and I freak out about whether or not I'll have work and income over the summer.

Spring usually feels like the grim knell of death, accompanied by relentless prairie wind and ominous skies.

So far this fall, I've attended five readings of one kind or another (participated in one as a performer), have completed new poetry for the first time this year, actually started work on the significant components of my dissertation that should have been well under way in the spring, and have begun to consider some dim glimmerings of hope for a future that extends past my PhD studies.

What, then, is the deal with literary spring? While I understand that it's not actually predicated upon my own experience, the chorus of evocations towards spring that echoes through the millennia overwhelmingly drowns those few (I'm thinking of Thomas King's marvellous treatment of spring as an ominous harbinger of wind-born depression in Medicine River) voices that seem in accord. Perhaps, my feeling is just that - mine. Perhaps it's an Alberta thing, borne by the beautiful and sunny Indian Summers we experience here. Perhaps it's even a Canadian thing - many of our cities are toilets in the spring (I'm looking at you, Montreal) and downright magical in the fall (I'm looking at you, Montreal).

At any rate, I think it's high time to recognize that, north of the 49 anyway, we've been getting our seasons wrong. It's time to stop thinking like American farmers and imagine rebirth in new ways, that don't have to do with raising high-fructose corn syrup and potato chips. We can see rebirth as a human, a social thing that need not be disassociated from the environment but may also have inspiration there.
Bugger spring, it's fall - a friend is singing tonight at Cafe Koi, it's Nuit Blanche tonight across the country, and I think it's time to celebrate some new beginnings.