April 28, 2015
Seasons mean so much here in the Adirondacks. It is here, like no other place I’ve lived before, that they delineate themselves as wildly separate and distinct experiences. Each is filled with unique delights that can be obtained at no other time.
Saranac Lake is a place which embraces all of them. We have festivals for each season, featuring the way each one is celebrated in the Adirondacks. I’m not the only one to appreciate this expanded understanding of the seasons. Many people, when discussing the weather, will burst out with, “I really notice the seasons here!” Indeed, it's difficult not to.
Seasons give a rhythm to the passage of time. Many is the visitor passing through our lobby who explain they are from a place with little in the way of seasonal variation. Whatever the current season, they tell me their Adirondack visit has brought home to them how much they miss this elemental cycle.
THE MORNING THAT IS SPRING
Spring is when the earth wakes up. The days visibly lengthen, with sunset coming later and the dawn, earlier. We're north enough for this to be perceptible, a few minutes every day.
In a short time, the thick ice that once supported ice fishing shanties and ATVs turns back into lakes and ponds. And the water becomes a deep dark blue seen at no other time of year.
All that swiftly unlocking water soaks into the ground and signals the flora to wake up and start renewing themselves. Spring flowers and golden buds are a visible sign of the earth returning to active life.
Perhaps it is because our winter is so deep that we Adirondackers find spring so delightful. Just weeks ago we were happily snowshoeing, ice fishing, and skiing, and now bikes, sneakers, and shorts appear.
Saranac Lake celebrates spring with Daffest, a ten day festival of daffodils, soap box derby, Fun Run, and pastry revels of many kinds. Our goal is the planting of a million daffodil bulbs! For more great spring ideas, see our blog post, Fun in the Mud.
In Tarot, Cups are the suit of Spring. They are the cards that deal with emotions, which flow like water. The transformation of ice into water at this time of year is a beautiful symbol of expression and renewal. In playing cards, this is represented by hearts.
THE DAY THAT IS SUMMER
Summer is the sunny day that seems to last forever. This is the season with the longest days of the year. Our position on the earth is not quite the extreme as the "midnight sun" of the Scandinavian and Siberian areas, but we do maximise the summer fun. Extended daylight hours, plenty of summer activities, and our incredible climate of warm (but not too warm!) days and soft, cool, nights mark this season.
In many ways, the Adirondacks are "summer camp" for every age. Our vacation style is to encourage relaxation, and enjoy nature at an individual pace. Some want to spend the day getting up and down a mountain, while others want to drift on a lapping lake.
These days are meant for swimming and picnics, nature walks and heart-to-heart chats, away from the constant beeping and bustle of modern life. It's summer. We have the whole day. Experience it.
Our summer events include our traditional Fourth of July, the Can-Am Rugby Tournament, and the biking tour Cycle Adirondacks. The Plein Air Festival draws dozens of artists to paint our nature scenes. But we also encourage our visitors to enjoy the paddling, boating, and fishing for which we are so famous.
In Tarot, Wands are the suit of Summer. They are the cards that deal with inspirations and creative energies, which flare like fire. The sun, at its highest and hottest, is pouring its own energy into all life on earth during the growing season. In playing cards, this is represented by clubs.
THE EVENING THAT IS AUTUMN
When you come to the end of a fantastic day, there is still the evening to enjoy. This is a time for contemplation and artistic enjoyment. This must be why autumn is so gloriously gorgeous, and yet, so short-lived. We wouldn't appreciate it properly if it were any longer.
I believe we have the finest autumns in the entire world.
Only the North American Northeast has the magic mix of trees that include every shade, from deep purples to fiery reds to brilliant yellows. To ramp up the dramatic impact, the wilderness of the Adirondack Park offers millions and millions of trees.
Best of all, our "frame" is unique. We are the only ones with mountains so high and lakes so abundant, we can offer a multitude of ways to view the fall foliage.
While summer is a busy hiking time, fall is actually my favorite season for it. The crisp air means we never get overheated and we can see for miles when we encounter yet another stunning vista. Paddling is also a great choice, where we get twice the foliage, thanks to the reflections in the mirror-like water. Biking is another way to find and explore lovely spots for photography or future art works.
We also have some marvelous events in the fall. Hobofest makes Labor Day Weekend rock with talented American music artists. The Adirondack Canoe Classic - 90 Miler Race ends at the Lake Flower docks, downtown. The Artists at Work Studio Tour opens their studios to art appreciators, to show how they create. And our Farm 2 Fork Festival shows how slow food is the best food.
In Tarot, Pentacles are the suit of Autumn. They are the cards that deal with the grounding and protective element of earth. The bright leaves and ripening harvest signal what will sustain us in the months ahead. In playing cards, this is represented by diamonds.
THE NIGHT THAT IS WINTER
And then, the world goes to sleep. That is how it seems when the days shrink and dwindle. Early winter has a short window of sunlight, and long dark nights.
It is the quietest of the seasons, and the subtlest.
One of the stresses of modern life is its rigid insistence that all days, all months, all seasons be treated the same. We feel this most acutely as winter closes in and urges us to do less... right at the time expectations seem to ratchet up with the approaching holiday season.
This is a time to take our time. This is when we should let the morning, day, and evening settle in around us as the days shrink down to the Winter Solstice. Winter is still. Sometimes, so should we be.
It is very special to gather around a crackling fire and feel the warmth of a good room full of good people. While this is something we can do any time, it seems to really mean the most when the snow is falling in that special whisper and the warmth feels good in our bones.
We have some of the finest winter events around. First Night and our world famous Winter Carnival are fantastic experiences that revel in the very best of winter. Of course, our skiing and snowshoeing and ice fishing can be enjoyed only at this time of year.
In Tarot, Swords are the suit of Winter. Their element is the air. At a time when water is locked into ice and the sun grows pale, the wind is still alive and at work, carving fantastic shapes in the snow and shaping the clouds in our bluebird skies. In playing cards, this is represented by spades.
I need the seasons to live to the rhythm of rain and sun.
When we look at a year as a metaphoric day, we understand these rhythms more deeply. This is why spring and fall seem so short, and why winter seems so long. The elements themselves transform as the earth tilts back and forth in the slant of our sun; spring showers, summer lakes, the thick roll of chilling water in fall, and the crystalline state it becomes in winter.
Earth, water, fire and air. In each season, they are different.
And here we are in Spring, again. Good morning! We hope you plan your "day" to includes us in a favorite time. The kind we press into our Memory Book: to share, to enjoy in our thoughts, to spur us to further efforts.