Everyone has a different way of measuring the seasons. The one universal measurement is the path of the sun in the sky through its various solstices and equinoxes. For meteorologists, it’s by blocks of three months. The three we’re in now–September, October, November–are meteorological autumn.
Children have two seasons: School and Schoolsout, also known as summer.
I have two seasons, too: Hammock and Ordinary Time. We have just entered the latter.
Hammock starts at an undetermined date in the spring, when the weather becomes warm enough to stretch out in the sun. It doesn’t matter whether you need a sweatshirt and gloves. If you can soak up the warmth of the sun, it’s Hammock season.
Conversely, Hammock lasts as long as you can find that spot in the sun. Once or twice it lasted until Halloween, when I put out some other pumpkin-headed dummy in my place.
This year, we entered Ordinary Time on Thursday. I had already moved the hammock closer to the house this summer when the old maple that anchored one end had to be cut down.
In its new location, the hammock soaked up the afternoon summer sun longer than it had under the maple. But there was a tradeoff. As the sun made its way farther south, that time grew shorter. By this week, the sunny patch was present only during the one o’clock hour.
On Thursday, I gulped down lunch and hurried outside, only to find the sunny spot soon glazed over by feathery clouds. A breeze picked up and the temperature chilled.
Disgusted, I stormed inside and grumbled to my wife just as the sun came out again. It lured me back to the hammock, where I stretched out for about five minutes before it hid once more.
This repeated twice or thrice — it’s all a blur now — until finally a large dark cloud loomed over the hill. I resigned myself to dismantling the hammock and stowing it in its bag for the winter.
As soon as I did, of course, the sun came out again. It returned on Friday, and will again today. It’s there even now, as the morning sun splashes across the lawn from another angle.
The sun is there, but its playmate the hammock is not. Neither am I. It’s Ordinary Time. And we will need to get through another solstice, another equinox, and a meteorological winter and half a fall before Hammock comes again.