Seasonality might strike you as a strange menu for organizing a blog (and an even stranger way to navigate a narrative.) But in many respects it may well be the *only* useful way to structure a circular story that’s slim on plot, chronically achronological, and deeply immersed in the poetics of place.
As if on cue, rain,
frost, acrimonious wind
summon summer’s end.
— Geo Davis
I often romance sunrise and to a lesser degree, sunset, powerful circadian rhythm markers. There are likewise singularly potent seasonal markers along our Adirondack shore of Lake Champlain that punctuate notable transitions, from summer-to-autumn, for example. Some are relatively fluid such as hauling and winterizing the boats, removing the docks, and the colorful drama of our much anticipated fall foliage. Each of these examples are determined approximately by the calendar but more precisely by weather changes, prevailing temperatures, the scheduling particularities of our protean paths through life, etc. Less fluid examples of seasonality during this same period include harvesting ripe apples in the orchard, first hard frost of the autumn, and the mysteriously consistent Labor Day weekend meteorological shift. With respect to this last marker, most years we enjoy a lengthy “Indian summer”, but Labor Day — with startling predictability — plunges us into chilly, usually rainy weather as if on cue.
What Is Seasonality?
The concept of seasonality is often cited in the context of business (i.e. financial market and sales forecasting) and healthcare (i.e. patient and virus fluctuations), but let’s consider the idea of seasonality in a less confined context. Let’s look at the root of the word, for starts. Season. I imagine we’re all pretty clear what we mean when referencing the annual rhythm of the seasons, the periodic ebb and flow of monthly rituals, and even their fluctuations in variations. Seasonality is those periodic patterns, variations that recur at predictable or semi predictable intervals year after year.
Our mind easily conceives of seasonality’s periodic points, references for rhythm and repetition, but I think we might need to do a little more work to grok the idea of seasonally recurring events and transitions at Rosslyn, so let’s push a little further.
In keeping with my goal to curate and convey the narrative of our Rosslyn years I’m essaying to distill and disentangle, gather cohesive collections, often thematically tied, sometimes chronologically structured, and often enough coalescing around seasonality. Excuse the clunkiness. It’s a work in progress.
I have remarked elsewhere that Susan and I aspired to recalibrate our lives when we moved from Manhattan to Essex. It was a desire to embrace the art of a slow living. Part intentionality and part immersion in the here and now. We yearned to savor the unique gifts of each passing period of the year. It was a comprehensive paradigm shift away from our habitual efficiency and productivity and busyness, and it wasn’t an easy shift. It was a paradigm shift toward creativity not only in the most active sense of making, but also in the embrace of essentialism. A mindfulness focused on learning and appreciating and investing ourselves in the many microscopic moments of homeownership and rehabilitation and adaptation and outdoor living and gardening and sporting recreation and… living fully and intentionally all of the magnificent processes of our new existence. Yielding to seasonality meant rebooting our lives and our work from New York City to upstate New York, from the quintessential metropolitan hub to its veritable antithesis. It meant homemaking in the North Country, only 5+ hours away by car but a world away in terms of the rhythms and rituals, and even many of the values.
So, what sorts of seasonality, what specific rhythms help punctuate our Rosslyn lifestyle?
I will try to jumpstart your navigation through Rosslyn seasonality with prior posts that offer glimpses into precise instances of seasonality. I will continue to update this post as I revisit and revise older posts and as I compose new ones. If you’re inclined to seasonality as a way of organizing your own experiences, please bookmark this post and reference it in the future as a window into our Rosslyn adventure. (And if you find the idea too contrived or too procrustean for your taste, rest assured, there are a great many other ways for you to navigate this mosaic-memoir.)
Try These Posts
Consider this an evolving outline of my posts explicitly or implicitly treating the topic of seasonality. I will revisit and update when helpful.
- December 2014: “In recent years December has given us our first real blast of winter. A premature blast usually because early December snows have usually melted by Christmas…”
- De-Icing the Duck Pond: “Let me start by saying that we don’t have a duck pond. We have a lake. Lake Champlain. And although it pains me slightly to say it, we also don’t have any ducks. Not personally, at least. Lake Champlain, on the other hand, has plenty of ducks. And when the lake freezes and the ducks run out of water to swim and eat, we offer them a small “duck pond” in front of Rosslyn boathouse to tide them over until spring.”
- Winter Wonderland 2019: “Winter storm warnings wander across our radar often enough this time of year that we become a little meteorology skeptical. Not cynical. Just suspicious that promised snowstorms won’t quite measure up to the hype. Sort of a wait-and-see approach to meteorological forecasting…”
- February Swim in Lake Champlain: “February swim, anyone? In Lake Champlain?!?! Griffin, our now almost nine year old Labrador Retriever, was thrilled to chase some throw-toys in the chilly lake today despite the fact that it’s February 19 and the water temperature is exactly three days above freezing… 35° of mid-winter swimming bliss!”
- Spring Dance: Coyotes and White Tail Deer: “One trail cam. One location. Three months, give or take. Deer. Coyotes. And the transition from winter to spring in the Adirondacks’ Champlain Valley.”
- Spring Meditation 2018: “Welcome to springtime in the Champlain Valley, a glorious but slightly schizophrenic transition — sun, rain, wind, hot, snow, sleet, etc. — when springtails make way for dandelions.”
- Moist May 2017: “The Lake Champlain water level is ever-so-slowly dropping, but it’s premature to rule out the possibility of hitting (or even exceeding) flood stage. At present, there’s about a foot of clearance between the bottom of Rosslyn boathouse’s cantilevered deck and the glass-flat water surface. Windy, wavy days are another story altogether.”
- Spring Soggies & Blooms: “The rain has stopped. At last! It’s a misty, moody morning, but the sun is coming out, and the rhododendrons are blooming. Life is good.”
- First Peaches: “It’s but a month and a day after Independence Day and we’re eating our first peaches of the season. Eureka! So memorable a moment each summer when I savor the first bites of the first peaches of the season that I’ve begun to wonder if we might need to create a floating holiday. It’s hard to conceive of a better cause for celebration.”
- Septembering: “September 1 should logically be indistinguishable from August 31. But it’s not. Seasonality along the Adirondack Coast is irrefutable, and possibly no season-to-season transition more apparent than the one we’re now experiencing. “Septembering” is neither sly nor subtle.”
- Undocking: “Once upon a time undocking referred to a boat pulling away from a dock, a ship disembarking from a pier. At Rosslyn we also use the term to describe the annual autumn removal of docks (and boat lift) from Lake Champlain…”
- Waterfront Winterization: “There comes a time each autumn when summer has faded and winter is whispering over the waves. Or when work, travel, something eclipses the languid stretch of fall boating and watersports. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, and as inevitable and bittersweet as fall foliage, waterfront winterization is an annual ritual that braces us practically and emotionally for the North Country’s frosty November through February.”
- Autumn Aura on the Adirondack Coast: “An autumn aura is descending upon the Adirondack Coast. Autumn colors, autumn lighting, autumn sounds (think southward-flying Canada Geese), autumn textures (think crisp leaves eddying and frosted grass underfoot), autumn smells, and autumn flavors…”
- October Wind, Canada Geese and Essex DNA: “Despite the on-again-off-again Indian Summer that we’ve enjoyed this autumn, there have been some bracing days, many like the one captured in these photos. Picture perfect. Bluebird skies and sunshine. But crisp. And windy.”