The weather affects so many decisions we make each day. No wonder we are always talking about it! I love having those conversations and making a connection with someone just based on what’s happening outside.
It gets even better when the seasons are changing. The discussion gets even richer and often extends to talk about rituals of the season. While I can’t get on board with the excitement for pumpkin spice flavored items, I do love hearing what activities people associate with and take part in with each changing season.
When I came across Leda Schubert’s Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons, what I especially loved was the presence of the bittersweet endings of the seasons. I always get weepy when the last of the snow melts yet rejoice in the mayapples poking through the ground. Or melancholy when the leaves start to fall but out dancing with the first of the snowflakes.
It is such a delight to have Leda share more ideas here about Firsts and Lasts. She has some great suggestions that are wonderful for launching conversations about the seasons and would also be excellent complements to the Weather Wonders activities at Start with a Book.
Leda is the author of numerous books for children, including Dogs Love Cars, Nathan’s Song, the Winnie series, Monsieur Marceau, and many other award-winning books. She’s an alum and an emeritus faculty member of the Vermont College for Fine Arts and lives in Vermont with her husband and their sleepy dogs.
Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons by Leda Schubert
As I write this in early June, our Brandywine crabapple is in full blossom, as are the Beauty of Moscow lilac and the wild lilacs along the side of the house. So are the apple trees in our orchard. The sky is a deep blue. In other words, it’s a perfect day. But I have a total obsession with the climate, and every time there’s a day like this, I wonder how many more there will be.
For more than 20 years, hardly an hour has passed without my worrying about where we’re headed. I worry about worldwide flooding, fires, and the millions of people who will lose their homes. I worry about politicians and those with power who think only of money and their own comfort. I worry about the animals.
But when I wrote Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons, I didn’t focus on worrying. Instead, I concentrated on the annual miracle of transition and on signs and wonders. I was celebrating what we too often take for granted.
Joy is present in all the changes, and even in mud season. Soft, squishy mud and puddles for jumping. Snuggling under layers of blankets and quilts. Silent snow falling, falling. Watching our dogs frolic, dig up long-buried bones, and play king of the mountain on piles of snow. Seasons are about hellos and goodbyes; greetings and farewells.
I loved imagining what an artist would do with my words, and I delight in the work of Clover Robin! She works primarily in collage, and I think she created extraordinary art.
Some questions and activities for Firsts and Lasts:
- What are the seasonal changes where you live?
- What are your favorite things about each season? Smells, activities, food, events, etc.
- If you have pets, what do you think they understand or remember about seasons?
- Create a color map of each season where you live. Here in Vermont, there’s not enough paint in all the world to capture the colors of fall, but a color photo of winter might as well be in black and white.
- Make a collage for each season where you live. You can cut up wrapping paper or old magazines, or you can color on paper and cut it into shapes. You’ll need scissors, paste, and paper, as well as crayons, markers, or paints.
- In Vermont, we often celebrate summer with maple creemees. What about where you are? Are there foods that you eat in one season but not another?
- Write a song or a poem about your favorite things in winter, spring, summer, and fall.
- Finally, take some action to slow global warming. We are not powerless!
Thanks for reading!
Our sleepy dogs.