I can feel autumn coming.
It’s just a subtle shift, really. A slight dip in the temperature at night, enough to warrant an oversized hoodie when walking the streets; golden leaves peaking out from behind thick green; a chill in the wind that was not there during high summer, just enough to cool one off during the still-hot days in late August.
My favorite thing about Virginia is the seasonal shift.
I love the transition period between seasons, watching as winter gray gives way to spring green, to summer heat, to autumn crispness, and over and over again. Virginia does it best–one of the few things it can claim. The seasons are just long enough that I am wishing for the next by the time the shift comes. It’s not like Mississippi, where summer humidity lasts from March to October, giving us little time with autumn and just a couple months of mild winter.
While I was living in Mississippi, there were things I missed about Virginia–the mountains cresting the horizon, soft blue in the waning hours of the day; the sky that always seemed close enough for me to reach out and touch; the turning of the leaves as summer stepped aside for autumn; the gentle caress of a winter’s morning buried in snow; reading a book in my favorite chair, curled up by a blazing fire.
But most of all, I missed the shift.
Mississippi didn’t understand transitions. One day it was summer, the next, it was winter, with little room between for autumn or spring. Those seasons didn’t seem to exist in the Deep South, as if the states down there were impatient for the extremes of summer and winter. Nine months out of the year, I found myself wading through waist-deep humidity–like inhaling an ocean, my friends said–to air conditioned cars and buildings and apartments. The other three months were spent realizing that no amount of bundling up could stave off the cold.
Winter in Mississippi rarely gets below the thirties, but due to the humidity, the cold settles deep in your bones and aches until you feel as if you’ll never be fully warm again. During the colder months there, I found myself layering and layering, sweaters over long-sleeved shirts, coats over-top that, a scarf and gloves to keep my fingers and neck from the biting chill of the wind.
I much prefer winter in the north.
Here, humidity is low. The dryness of the season is not great for my skin, but keeping lotion on hand is just a given, and I find myself preferring the soft cold of Virginia mornings in December than the ice-chill of Mississippi winter. Here, I can get by with a pair of jeans, some boots, and a coat over a short-sleeved shirt. Layering is just not needed.
Virginia doesn’t have much going for it in my opinion, but I’m glad it has given me the knowledge that when I move away, I will be going north–somewhere the seasonal shift is noticeable, and I can revel in the changing of the seasons as the years pass me by.