Winter may sit on the seasonal throne, but its reign has been quiet. December felt almost like Spring in weather during both day and night, and except for the bare tree branches, one might think it. The new year brought a new turn in Winter, and it reached out its icy claws with a vengeance. A few short days into January, the mountains received their first true taste of Winter. While frost had covered the ground a few select times, this was more.
Just as the mountains knew no Spring, they knew no Autumn too. It was as if by magic a few days before Halloween; the leaves changed colors and dropped in droves to litter the ground. Winter, while not a true welcome to the months it rules, has seized the seasonal throne, and it’s icy rule begins in earnest. November has brought winter with it. No longer content to wait in the shadows for a Thanksgiving coup, or even the first of December, the first true month of winter. The mountains are witnessing a prelude to the frigid months ahead of them. Temperatures dropped during the day suddenly, going from breeze filled 60s to 50s, and even 40s.
If September is the dawn of the Harvest season, October is the day. The full swing, the full bloom, the full circle of the Harvest season. The days are shortening in the mountains. Not by the time of the clocks, but the by time the sun sits in the sky. The fiery sphere retires early at this time of year. The mountains feel a chill once it retires, and even as it takes its seat the following the day. As hints of color creep into the leaves, an Autumn wind carries the first casualties to their final resting place.
Is this what it looked like all those years ago? Those bygone days of yesteryear, so far away, but still so near? If you look in the right direction, with the right set of eyes, and block all the trappings of humanity’s evolution into the modern age. The space age. Davy Crockett wouldn’t know what to make of the power lines, poles, or transformers. He probably wouldn’t know what to make of all the cabins. They might seem familiar, yet so strange, as they sit packed together, streamlined into little lots side-by-side with all the modern gadgets and gizmos. The distant roar of an unseen plane creates a slight chaos, otherwise the sky stays the same as it has, and will, more or less. Varying shades of blue stretch out to engulf the mountains far off in the distance. Clouds. Mountains. Yes, Mr. Crockett, I’m sure you have fond memories of the Smokies.
Spring never arrived. The time passed, and Winter tried many a coup to regain the seasonal throne. The pastel hues went missing, as did the gradual increase in heat. Instead, as if on a whim one day in June, one looks out across the hills and valleys. The mountains have shade from the hot sun thanks to a vibrant sea of green covering the land.
On a warm summer night in the mountains, you can smell the coming storm. Like the smell of fresh cut grass in the twilight hour between day and night, the smell of a summer storm is distinct to the season. You can look out the window and see the signs a storm has come and gone. Open the window and you’ll know if it plans to return. When the sun rules the sky, there’s a plethora of distractions. Eyes dart from one to the other and back again. The other senses find themselves ignored. The smells of summer are present, but subdued under a warm summer sun. A storm can arrive without notice to spoil the day’s activities like an uninvited guest knocking on the door as you sit down at the dining room table.
As the dogwoods began to bloom across the landscape, Winter reached out from its icy tomb. The third week of April no longer beheld the pastel hues of new life. Winter attempted a coup to steal back the seasonal throne from Spring. The sun hid behind clouds as temperatures dropped. Frost returned to cover the mountains. Small flurries of snow appeared on occasion.
The first day of Spring. The dawn of the pastel season. New life and cool pastels haven’t yet dotted the landscape, but the mountains know they won’t have to wait long. The days still hold a slight crispness on the breeze while the nights find falling temperatures. Winter hasn’t completely relinquished its icy grip on the seasonal throne, but the signs are there the reign is coming to a close. The days are lasting longer under a bright sun.
It wasn’t as if December had its share of snow. Mere hours into the first day of the month heavy flakes fell to announce, in grand fashion, Winter had arrived. Snow fell Christmas Eve, and, more important, the famed and elusive “White Christmas” came to the mountains. So too, January brought along snow to team with icy frosts and freezing temperatures. Now, February gets its turn, and looks to try to outperform the previous two months. February is dark and gray, bringing rain and depression to the mountains. The hopeful rebirth of Spring and March is weeks away, but seems like years. As a cold Saturday night becomes a cold Sunday morning, rain becomes snow.
On the first early morning of the first day of December, Winter arrived in the mountains. Those early morning hours of Winter’s first month resembled scenes from a snow globe. Snow blew about mixed in a cold rain, but as the sun set, the temperature dropped. Before the sun could peek a single ray above the horizon, the landscape lay covered in a blanket of snow. While not a heavy quilt, still enough to cover and cast a frosty glow across the mountains. The light of the morning star reflected off the snow, off the seasonal crown perched atop Winter’s brow.