What’s Your Favorite Season?
That question came up the other day during a conversation I was having with my six-year-old nephew who was wet, sandy, and tired in the back seat of my car.
He’s a Colington kid, which means that come spring, he’s often splashing around in the sound or tromping through the woods somewhere after school. On this particular day, he wasn’t up for riding his little dirt bike back home, so I offered to give him and his bike a lift. As we drove, I glanced at the trees that lined the road. In the last few weeks, a beautiful green had clothed the bare branches of the maritime woods, filling in nearly every nook and cranny of its canopy.
Spring on the Outer Banks was officially in full swing. But somehow, I realized, it seems that no matter how many years come and go, its arrival always takes me by surprise. Its lush and brilliant colors. The ospreys’ return. Wildflowers.
Now into the second week of May, we have come out from under the layers of pollen that covered pretty much everything in our lives, and know that the few weeks of yellow flies are just around the corner. At this time of year, homework can wait until nightfall. Doors and windows can be left wide open. Dirty feet, muddy clothes, tadpoles, and skinned knees are the norm.
When I couldn’t settle on a season, I threw the question back to my little passenger in the back.
“Winter,” he said without a second thought. “I love snow.” I admired his loyalty to a season that can be quite fickle when it comes to its promise of actually producing any snow here on the Outer Banks. But I understood where he was coming from. It’s hard to forget when snow starts to fall on these beautiful islands.
Maybe its rarity is why most of us can not only list the snowfalls we’ve had in the recent years, but we also know exactly where we were when it started falling, along with how long it fell, how much came down, and how many days it stayed on the ground.
The two of us talked about the things we liked about the seasons and the holidays that fell during each of them. But the longer my nephew’s question floated in the air, much like the pollen of a few weeks before, the more I realized there was no longer one season on the Outer Banks I preferred more than the other.
Each brings its own beauty and splendor, its own fragrances, its own rituals, its own memories. And by now, I have also learned that regardless of what season we are in, there will inevitably be aspects of the other three that I long for.
Like the September sky at daybreak and the colors of a November evening at dusk.
For the light between the bare branches in winter, the great horned owl in the fall, the forsythia and camellias in spring.
The smell of gardenias.
The way the crepe myrtle branches hang over the deck railing in summer, heavy with blooms. The Dogwood that blooms in May and the Mimosa’s pink puffs I can count on in June.
To step out onto the deck and become part of the wind that whips through the trees just before an August thunderstorm rolls through.
I glanced at the little boy in the rearview mirror who was still waiting – rather patiently – for my answer and I smiled back at him. “I don’t know, buddy. I guess I just love them all.”