Even though winter isn't yet over in Maine, spring has signaled its arrival. Evenings are brighter; sparrows are flocking; here and there a warm breeze surprises the cold. But before spring fully arrives comes a period of thaws and rain known locally, for self-evident reasons, as mud season. And then, after spring but before true summer, comes blackfly season, when the cost of a pleasant evening is a ring of itching bites at your sockline.
Thinking on this got me wondering about what other local, vernacular seasons existed, marking life's cycles in richer detail than the standard four seasons. I put a call out on Twitter; this is what it returned, arranged roughly from the present.
California is now more than halfway through mudslide season, which goes hand-in-hand with flood season. In upstate New York, it's partway through pothole season, which will last until the end of spring. On the Hudson, spring brings shadbush season; those bushes bloom in time with shad returning from the sea. In New York City, where city-planted street trees are wind-pollinated, it's allergy season, and fiercely so. In Alaska, it's breakup. Over the course of several weeks, seven months of snow melts in the day and refreezes each night.
From spring until next winter in the midwest it's construction season. In the Pacific northwest, it's still grey season, alternately known as rainy season, which lasts year-round, minus summer. (In Texas, there's almost summer and gone summer.) Summer in Arizona is also monsoon season, and well into Nova Scotia's summer comes mosquito season.
Summer is tourist season in Maine, followed by blueberry season; blackflies are forgotten, but in Arizona it's whitefly season. In Washington it's drought season. Bermuda Longtail season marks the start of college in Bermuda. Around this time fire season begins in California and will last through Christmas, perhaps longer.
In Vermont, after the leaves fall but before it snows, is stick season. With any luck, there will be an Indian summer. Alaska's winter is presaged by freezeup. The arrival of northerners in Arizona is the beginning of snowbird season, ending with their April departure.
In California, it's always earthquake season.
Image: Mud season in full effect, by Dwight Sipier.
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