I am currently in India and, though the monsoons are well underway in most parts, we haven’t seen much rain yet in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. So there is a general mugginess and cloudiness all through the day. Makes people restive, this kind of weather. Though the intensity of the summer heat has waned significantly, a clamminess prevails, making it impossible to be out for any length of time without wanting to get back indoors under a fan or in an air-conditioned room.
And, of course, much of the country awaits the rains with eagerness — whether it is to play in the downpours or to ensure their fields get enough water. There’s the less positive aspects too where torrential rains can bring entire cities to their knees due to poor drainage, bad roads, weak construction, and more.
What I miss most about the US, especially the Midwest, is the changing of the four seasons. I didn’t particularly care for the long, snow-filled winters, mind you, because driving through it in the dark was often stressful. But the rest of it was all quite lovely because every seasonal change brought new hopes of starting something afresh as nature herself was doing. As the physical environment around us changes, so do our moods and thoughts. We cannot help but pause to take notice, no matter how briefly.
Writers and poets have been exulting about the seasons forever, of course. Here are some of my favorite poems about the seasons.
Let’s use this month’s prompts to think about the four seasons and the weather in general. Most of the questions ask for descriptions. Make sure to use all your senses and imagination as you do so. The goal is to freewrite as much as you can so you can unearth some gems to then polish further into more definite works as you choose.
1/ Which is your favorite season and why?
2/ Which is your least favorite season and why?
3/ Describe your favorite memory related to weather.
4/ Describe your worst memory related to weather.
5/ Describe something you’ve seen in a movie related to weather that has stayed with you.
6/ Describe something you’ve read in a book related to weather that has stayed with you.
7/ Describe something you’ve read in a poem related to weather that has stayed with you.
8/ Describe something you’ve heard in a song related to weather that has stayed with you.
9/ Describe a time when your daily routine was disrupted due to weather.
10/ Describe a time when your travel/vacation was disrupted due to weather.
11/ Describe your worst weather-related nightmare.
12/ Describe your ideal weather and how you would spend a day with such weather.
13/ If you could invent a fifth season, what would that be like?
14/ Consider a busy, crowded beach during summer. Describe this as best you can from memories or imagination. Use all the senses.
15/ Switch the above beach scene to fall. Describe how it would look and feel now using all the senses. [People from countries where there is no fall season, substitute “monsoons.”]
16/ Switch the above beach scene to winter. Describe how it would look and feel now using all the senses.
17/ Switch the above beach scene to spring. Describe how it would look and feel now using all the senses.
18/ Describe your favorite summer activity.
19/ Describe your least favorite summer activity.
20/ Describe your favorite fall activity. [People from countries where there is no fall season, substitute “monsoons.”]
21/ Describe your least favorite fall activity. [People from countries where there is no fall season, substitute “monsoons.”]
22/ Describe your favorite winter activity.
23/ Describe your least favorite winter activity.
24/ Describe your favorite spring activity.
25/ Describe your least favorite spring activity.
26/ Describe your favorite public holiday in summer.
27/ Describe your favorite public holiday in fall. [People from countries where there is no fall season, substitute “monsoons.”]
28/ Describe your favorite public holiday in winter.
29/ Describe your favorite public holiday in spring.
30/ Describe your favorite work of visual art (painting, photograph, sculpture, etc.) that depicts something related to the seasons or the weather.
31/ Describe one of your favorite food items for each of the seasons. Why? When did you first eat it? Is there a recipe? Who cooks it best?
One of the best journal writers who was fascinated by the seasons was Henry David Thoreau. Here are some excerpts. And here are a couple of my favorite bits:
The phenomena of the year take place every day in a pond on a small scale. Every morning, generally speaking, the shallow water is being warmed more rapidly than the deep, though it may not be made so warm after all, and every evening it is being cooled more rapidly until the morning. The day is an epitome of the year. The night is the winter, the morning and evening are the spring and fall, and the noon is the summer.
—Henry David Thoreau; Walden, “Spring”
I do not think much of that chemistry that can extract corn and potatoes out of a barren soil, but rather of that chemistry that can extract thoughts and sentiments out of the life of a man on any soil. It is in vain to write on the seasons unless you have the seasons in you.
— Henry David Thoreau; Journal, January 23, 1858