Life is always accompanied by changes, making change probably its most loyal companion. We are so often exposed to them -and always have been- that we developed ways to categorize the changes that keep reoccurring. These are the changes we call cyclic. As in the cycle of water where water keeps on changing forms, from vapour to solid and everything in between. Each of these changes has been attributed specific names, which are, in order, evaporation (or transpiration), condensation, precipitation and surface runoff. From surface runoff, evaporation can once again proceed which closes the loop. This cycle is believed to be able to persist forever or, at least, for as long as water remains. Now let’s drift away from the cycle of water, so we can enjoy a broader vision of the changes that surround us. For one, a change that I am especially keen on welcoming every year is warm weather. When I mention warm weather, what probably pops in your head right now is the summer season and this is exactly what I was referring to. However, the temperature is not the only thing that keeps changing through seasons. Let’s plow through each season by pointing out each of the major changes that they carry along with them.
First of all, let’s agree to present seasons by order of encounter starting from January to December (our calendar year). January and February in North America are accompanied by undeniable cold, especially if you live in Québec. This drastic temperature change unequivocally marks the arrival of winter. In Québec, the average temperature resides around -10℃, but there are huge day-to-day variations. One day can be marked by a dreadful -24℃ and the next a comfortable 2℃, you never really know. Apart from the noticeable and persistent presence of cold, our winter is marked by a significant accumulation of snow, which you know by now is a form of precipitation (read Bring Up Snow). The snow is accumulating because the soil has frozen, thanks to the ever tenacious cold. Nevertheless, the total amount of precipitation is still lower than any other time of the year. winter is particularly dry, which explains why our skin becomes so dried-up and flaky. If we add the wind factor to the equation, winter becomes even worse. The speed of wind can reach an average of 13km/h which is the fastest we can record during the year. As if winter season was not dreary enough with its cold, dryness, and windiness, it also has to encompass all the shorter days of the years, decreasing naturally available light. Moreover, we can observe an increase in cloudy days which can block most of that light. It is of no wonder that winter is being framed as the darkest month of the year, both literally and figuratively speaking.
Fortunately for us, winter does not last forever. With March comes spring carrying all of its renewing properties. From the moment Spring deploys its wings, the temperature rises to a satisfying average of 1℃/day. The resulting warmth is sufficient to unthaw the soil and melt the leftover snow abandoned by winter. The increased water supply and the warmth becomes essential factors that permit the growth of new vegetation and the awakening of trees. Not only are plants pleased by these changes but animals too. Animals hibernating are now coming out of their dormant stage and are joining in the feast that nature is bringing them. Days are becoming longer and less cloudy, contributing to more natural light being able to reach us. The wind also seems to calm down creating a more tempered climate. I sincerely love spring. Spring is not only the time when I can finally celebrate yet another birthday, but also the coming back of leaves in the trees. I must say that the event ignites in me a feeling of total admiration and joy, am I the only one feeling this? As soon as May knocks at our doors, I begin to be actively alert for the first sight of green appearing on branches. Yet, there is something else happening slightly before the first greenery that makes me really pleased to welcome spring: the opening of Sugar Shacks. I know this probably makes me sound very Canadian, but I am, and why deny my true nature? If you happen to come by Québec in spring, make sure to taste our sweet sweet nectar of the gods, namely our maple syrup. You can also enjoy it under its toffee form which is a real treat served on fresh snow.
Though I really like spring and all that it offers, I also really enjoy summer. As you may now know from previous articles, I’m fairly intolerant of cold and summer is anything but cold. Beginning in June, the heat increases at a speedy but steady rate, plateauing at around 26℃ by July 26th. Still, summer has other attributes that are at least as impressive as its remarkable change in temperature. For instance, let us give an honourable mention to the longest day of the year, which happens every year, varying between 20-21 June. This date marks the Summer Solstice, harbingering the summer season. This year the longest day will be on June 20th. From the province of Québec, you will be able to witness the sunrise at 5:06 am and the sunset at 8:47 pm. In the Summer, the daylight period is longer, the days are more humid, the sky is less cloudy and the winds are seldom present. Yet, the rainfalls can be phenomenal, averaging a total of 92mm of rain per month. It becomes pretty obvious why so many people want to spend much of their time outside. This behaviour is perfectly adequate, but we still have to remember to protect our skin against excessive sunlight exposure.
Most of us can agree that summer never lasts long enough. As soon as the daylight period begins to shrink, From the arrival of October, the leaves in the trees start changing colours. This is a beautiful event that gives rise to a wonderful scenery. Yet, there is one thing we often omit to consider when ogling that dazzling chemistry of colour. The change of leaf colour is the manifestation of trees entering slowly but surely their dormant phase. Soon enough leaves will fall on the ground and the trees will be bare and will start looking somewhat dead. They won’t be dead though, as you will observe when spring shows up again. As we move through the fall months (September, October and November), the temperature will start dropping and the days will become ever shorter. The winds are picking up again and the clouds are becoming more present. Still, if you dress up accordingly, you can enjoy tremendously satisfying walks in the woods. On our doorstep appears December once again dragging back winter, and the cycle goes on.
This is all really interesting, but what if this whole idea of 4 seasons regulated by solstices and equinox wasn’t the most appropriate adopted system. This is a question that some scientists try to answer by studying common metabolisms happening in the human body through the year. A study that took place in California, U.S. obtained results suggesting that there may only be two seasons, not four as previously considered (well at least in their region). These revelations are intriguing indeed, but what do you think? Do you think that where you live there are more than four seasons, or less, or exactly four? What’s your stance? As for me, I consider that our approach is perfectly adequate for the province of Québec and any further studies surveying this issue would be interesting, but still far from relevant in regard to our way of life.
I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.