Friday, October 19, 2007

Seasons in the sun

I've been thinking. I know. Anyway, I've been thinking that I like seasons. Also, that I don't like the heat so much.

Fall is rolling in right around now, and in Portland that means days of 60 degree temperatures, colorful leaves that only stick around for a couple of weeks before the customary autumn rain dumps them on the ground, and a respite from sweating.

This summer was not particularly hot, and it was nice while it lasted. But I have to confess that I was looking forward to fall, even with all its rain. I like the change of scenery and the change in temperature. I like how the air turns crisp, and you can feel it nipping at your skin. I like that I get to wear slimming jackets.

When I lived in PR, I think hardly a day went by where I didn't say "Ay, que calor". Unless I have a nice ocean or refreshing pool to jump right into, I've never been a fan of the heat. At first, realizing this, I felt bad, thinking that I was being a bad Puerto Rican. Because we all like the heat, right? All the time?

I'm not so sure, because if I complained about the heat almost every day, I just as often heard other people complaining about it too. I have my suspicions about how we all love the heat. So on that front, I feel vindicated.

But as nice as a year-long summer sounds, especially around, oh, January, I think my change-craving nature is well-served by living in a place that has four distinct seasons. To me, each Portland season can each be summarized with one color: fall is yellow, because it's the predominant color of the autumn palette; winter is gray, because, let's face it, that's the color of the sky during those rainy months; spring is a pale pink, because of the cherry blossom trees that sprout to life; summer is emerald green, because all that winter rain makes lush grass and trees possible. Not only do I get a new city every few months, but it all reminds me of how everything is linked, and even dreary things like winter rain serve a purpose.

It's not just the temperature that changes, or the foliage. Foods change, with different fruits and vegetables coming and going. I find myself craving different things depending on the time of year, and, come to find out, those things that I crave are what's in season. Just about a week ago I thought to myself, "Hmm, apples sound good". I've never used to be an apple fan, at least not in its raw, unadulterated state -- particularly because apples don't grow in PR (as far as I know), and by the time imported ones arrive they may be red, but not exactly delicious. Their mealy texture stuck with me, and I pretty much gave up eating them except in pies. Some time after I had this craving, Dave mentioned that it being apple season, we should venture out to an apple festival out in a town that's about an hour away. Aha! Apple season, you say?

I found this interesting, for two reasons: one, it has taken me forever to start to learn what's in season when; and two, having grown up in a place with virtually no seasons, I'd have assumed that my body would behave differently. After being here a while, however, I'm finding that I grow increasingly attuned to my natural surroundings. Not to be all cheesy, but I like that. It makes me feel like part of a process that goes back to time immemorial, of being aware of nature and what it can give you. And in a way it surprises me, because all these changes have been gradual, and now, years after moving here, I feel like I'm opening my eyes after having closed them for just a second and realizing I actually took a long nap. Look at me, craving apples in the fall. When did that happen?

I'll give in, and maybe make an apple pie this weekend for dessert. But for dinner, we're having arroz y habichuelas and bistec encebollado.


Don Luis said...

I feel just the opposite. After living in Massachusetts for 30 years, moving to Puerto Rico 3 years ago has been wonderful. I don't miss the changing seasons in the least. I especially don't miss snow.

And we do have seasonal food here; we're just coming to the end of pana season, which lasts only a few months. Acerolas and citrus are also seasonal. About the only things we have year round are bananas and platanos.

As to the heat, it doesn't bother me nearly as much here as it did in Massachusetts. We had hot, sticky, stifling days there. Here, up in the mountains, it seldom gets over 85 F, and there's always a nice breeze. Of course, the fact that I always wear shorts and sleeveless tee-shirts may help. I wear shoes about once a month. The rest of the time it's flip-flops or Crocs.

Jen said...

Indeed, there are seasonal fruits and vegetables in PR. Many times I didn't feel *attuned* to the comings and goings of seasonal produce because of the lack of changing seasons. Something about the physical changing of the landscape here has been making me more aware of it.

Last time I remember wearing shoes only once a month was when I was a kid! lol I miss those days.