How seasons change

by | Feb 25, 2016 | Seasons Newsletter | 6 comments

 How do how seasons change?

Once again we are entering a period of transition: summer to autumn in the southern hemisphere, winter to spring in the north.

What is your idea about how seasons change? I notice that a lot of people think of seasonal change as something that happens slowly and steadily, like a smooth movie fade, or the blending of water colour on a page.

Sounds like a nice scenario, doesn’t it? But I’ve been observing seasonal change for nearly three decades now, and I have yet to see a smooth transition.


Here’s a more likely scenario 

First you are nudged by a few hints, a glimpse of something different. Here in the southern hemisphere, where it is deep summer, you may notice a cooler night or a change in the angle of the light. In the northern hemisphere perhaps one day the watery sun has surprising warmth, or a crocus appears, cutting through the cold ground.

It looks as if a new season is on the way.



But then the old season resists, asserting itself, as if refusing to die. The heat (or cold) may intensify.

Here at the end of February, summer is blasting a hot dry breath over the land, fiercely burning any unwatered plants. Summer is acting as if there is no such thing as autumn waiting in the wings, ready to take over. In the northern hemisphere, a vicious blizzard or cold icy snap may strike just as you are dropping your guard. At such times, spring seems like a pipe dream.

At the very end of summer, my tomato plants, their side leaves hanging crackly and dry, put out a last burst of fresh green and even new flowers at the very top. In autumn, trees flare with a rich display of colour just before surrendering to the stripping of winter.


It happens even in death  

This phenomenon may occur in other areas of life. A dying relationship unexpectedly bestows a burst of its former glory. The job you are leaving suddenly becomes fun. Even a person dying a natural death may show a flash of radiance just before breathing no more.



Do you ever feel confused by such contradictions?

Do you feel resistant, wanting to hold on to the season that’s passing, because it’s what you know? After all, you have adjusted to it. You know what you’re going to wear from one week to the next, and what you’re going to eat. You’ve fallen into step. And now it’s going to change again, not smoothly but bumpily, confusing you in the process.


But it’s normal

At times of transition you are caught between the old and the new. You may be tempted to make the confusion wrong, but transitions are part of life.

Disorientation is the nature of transition.

When you are disoriented, of course you want something to hold on to. You may try and hold on to the very thing that is passing. This creates discomfort, even pain.


A Buddhist teaching

Buddhism offers a wise teaching about what you can hold on to, and it’s not what you might expect, or even want. It’s this:

The only certainty is that everything changes.

Ha! You might object. What help is that?

But think about it for a moment. What if, instead of fighting change, you surrendered to it? What if you embodied a deep acceptance that this is how life is?

Change is not an affront. Nature is always in the rhythm of change.

What the seasons teach


Would you really like a year with no seasons at all?

The passing seasons bring about continuous renewal. Trees go through times of rest through the chill of winter, a burst of new growth and energy in spring, consolidation and seed-making in summer, and release of seeds and leaves in autumn.

Your body goes through changes with every season and stage of life. Every cell of your body knows about this. You know about what must be surrendered and also about the new growth that will emerge.


It’s fine to have feelings too

Adopting this philosophy doesn’t mean you won’t have feelings about change. Many people feel melancholy as the crickets sing their autumn song and the brightness of summer recedes.

Yet there may also be a readiness to let go, for that final flare also expresses a ‘too-muchness’ that goes with each season. In the end, to borrow a saying from my mother, ‘you can have too much of a good thing.’


Three strategies

And so, here are three strategies you might like to adopt through the seasons of nature, or of your life:

1. During times of transition, be present and curious to what is.

2. Hold on to the thought that change is the only certainty. Know that you are designed to deal with this.

3. Open to the renewal that inevitably takes place when old states are surrendered. Each season, each change, will bring you gifts. Prepare to receive them.


When you become aware that everything
is connected,
it is easier to relax and trust.

—Roger Jahnke, Qi Gong master


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  1. Sherry

    I saw the first Naked Lady flowering yesterday and reminded myself that indeed,
    Fall is on the way. And today I’ve felt too hot. But I do like it that way…as long as it’s not
    Better jump into the sea for a cooling swim while Summer is still here!
    So, I guess,” take advantage of what is” is the now message I am greeting.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Juliet Batten

      Sherry, sounds as if you are seizing the moment! thanks so much for your response; nice to hear from you.

  2. Richard Jakob-Hoff

    Lovely wise words Juliet. Thank you.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thanks Richard.

  3. Dana Leigh Lyons

    Beautiful post, Juliet!

    Here in Colorado, we seem to shift from winter to spring and back again one day to the next. A couple weeks back, my toes were frozen from slushing through snow in very unsuitable boots. Today, I’m wearing short sleeves and watching green shoots pop up outside my window.

    Having missed winter the past three years, I’m very resistant to see it pass. And yet, I love, love, love transitions between seasons…even the tumultuous, unpredictable rhythm of it all. Thank you for the reminder of how this rhythm resonates with all of life’s changes…and how much seasons have to teach us.

    • Juliet Batten

      Dana, what a big change for you, to be in Colorado with such dramatic turn-arounds. It must have been strange not to have a winter. Transitions have their own energy; how wonderful that you love them, with all their unpredictableness. Thanks so much.


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