Friday, March 02, 2012

Snow Days and Favorite Seasons

I had a snow day yesterday. We finally got more than three inches of snow. It will be gone by the weekend when we hit the 40s. But, for the moment, we have a winter landscape. And I decided to stay in rather than deal with the messy streets. I had brought work home, and I spent the day doing it.

Well, I cheated a little. While I was reading, I deep-conditioned my hair and slathered on a honey face mask (don’t ask, guys).

Because it was a snow day, I wanted to do something that would give me that wonderful sense of an unexpected holiday that I used to have as a kid when school was canceled. That’s why I had pizza and chocolate for lunch.

Somehow weekends – even when one decides to ignore the chores and take the morning or afternoon off – weekends never feel like snow days.

I grew up in the South, but I am not a fan of spring or summer. Fall and winter are my seasons. I still have trouble driving in snowy weather, but I love being inside and looking out or stepping outside and breathing in the cold air during a snowfall. I spend spring and summer dreading storms and complaining about the heat. Anything above 75 is a heat wave to me. As you might imagine, I’m not adapting well to global warming. That was why I loved finally getting snow after an almost snowless winter.

I mention all of this because today got me thinking about characters and seasons. Writers sometimes turn to astrology or Tarot cards to gain insight into their characters. Why not their favorite season? People – except for that jolly, hearty lot who can always find something good to say about the weather – tend to prefer one of the four seasons.

If you ask someone what season she prefers, there is rarely any hesitation. Seasonal preferences are personal and often determined by more than the temperature.

Someone who loves summer may remember swimming and hiking at the family camp in the Adirondacks or maybe his memory is of teenage summers spent hanging out at the beach with friends. Maybe summer is her favorite season because she’s always cold in winter, but come summer she can pack away her sweaters and jackets and put on sandals and a sundress and walk in the park. Maybe her husband loves winter because he grew up in South Dakota or because he loves skiing or because he works construction the rest of the year and in winter he can take a couple of weeks off and go to Arizona and play golf.

Or, maybe a lonely empty-nester with an often absent husband loves winter because at Christmas, her children all come home and she can feed and spoil them and the house is filled with noise and laughter again.

Knowing someone’s favorite season – actually, mine is autumn with bright crisp days and the beginning of blanket and hot cocoa evenings; winter is the runner-up. As I was saying, when you know someone’s – a character’s – favorite season, you have an important bit of information. Ask a few questions, if the reasons aren’t volunteered, and you’ll learn something about that person's – or character’s – favorite memories or pastimes, or what he or she yearns for or values.

That’s why instead of turning to astrology or Tarot cards, I am going to quiz each of the main characters in my new series about his or her favorite season. It's the near future, and the seasons are all screwed up (even more than now). In the second book, there’s a blizzard. Obviously, some of my characters will be thrilled with all that snow. And some will be longing for a flight to Miami – which, of course, would never occur to those of us who prefer a cool breeze to all that heat and a blazing sun.

This week I have not envied my Type M colleagues who escaped to warmer climes. I finally got a snow day.


royalessays said...
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hannah Dennison said...

Frankie - this is an absolute treat to read. And thank you for the wonderful suggestion - I am going to quiz all my characters on their favorite season. For me - I love the autumn. Why do I live in Los Angeles?

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thanks, Hannah.

We do end up in unexpected places, don't we? Seattle suited me better than any place I've ever lived. But, aside from the lovely summers back then, a big part of it was driving to work with water and mountains in sight.

writing jobs said...

this is a good story. I love the autumn. In this time of the year contributes to the mood of deep thinking. And of course, nature is very beautiful

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Glad you enjoyed, writing jobs.

Here's hoping we have a real autumn this year.