In our previous home (Thailand) we had three seasons, the hot season, the hotter season, and the I can’t take this heat season. I was always startled by the mention of seasonal changes by my friends in other latitudes, a distant long-forgotten reminder that in other parts of the world you have to change the whole way you dress and the activities you do multiple times a year. I had gained even more distance from the vicissitude of seasonal changes because I wasn’t working, and was primarily taking care of a small child not yet attending school. There were no summer vacations to shape our year, only one long hot and humid year.
We arrived in Princeton in the middle of winter, right during the second snowstorm of the three Princeton had that year. Our Little M had never seen snow. She had very little experience with long sleeves, a great distaste for multiple layers of clothing, and had never worn boots. The trees were completely bare, everything was rather gray, the streets of Princeton were mostly empty with everyone staying indoors, in the cafes, libraries and such. There were already many canada geese, in the canals, on the lawns… The deer were very easy to spot also with the lack of vegetation to hide them. Life was a little slower it seemed, only hurrying to catch the bus, and hurrying to get indoors.
Spring took a long time to fully arrive. There were many false spring days, followed by a little more snow, or a very cold front. The trees suddenly woke up, blooming wildly into scandalous clouds of color. This is probably obvious to most, but I was surprised to see the trees bloom beautifully even before sprouting any leaves. The change in temperatures was not gradual at all. There were very hot days suddenly, followed by very cold days. One day every one was sitting outside, the next day everyone was back indoors. When spring finally arrived for good, the trees dropped their flowers and went into a frenzy of greening the world. To me it is fascinating how trees and shrubs that looked so dead suddenly seem so alive. Princeton and its surroundings are engulfed by green in all its glorious shades. The sky seems bluer. The sun is comforting and warm. I felt an unexpected urge to be outside, to walk, to smell, to explore all the green spaces around the town. We went camping, we hiked, we canoed. The lawns, covered in dandelions, were now inhabited by the emblematic american robins, watching. With spring came all the migratory birds as well, filling the trees with noises and nests. So many birds, in bright colors, with very different songs, in all shapes and sizes. There were many events all around town, music on the weekends, guided walks in the many green spaces.
The weather started getting hotter, the sun brighter and less delicate. The farmers’ market started on a weekly basis in the center of Princeton, showcasing the amazing tastes of summer. What joy it is to have to wait for seasonal fruits and vegetables, to then gorge on them with abandon when they are finally here, and how sad when they are gone. Strawberries and asparagus first, then cherries, then blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, corn and stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums…) As corny as it may sound, I feel a simple overwhelming joy when picking and eating fruit straight from the tree, that ripened, when it was meant to ripen, knowing that it is there, as a gift, for only a small window of time. Summer is a time to be outside, although the sun can get downright aggressive on some days. Vacations started and the town got a little more empty, buses ran less frequently. There seemed to be a lot more tourists , coming to see the University, perhaps perspective students and their families? Our little M started summer school, for her it was the same as the rest of the year except they swam in the indoor pool everyday. In Princeton you could see children with their summer camp t-shirts, and the big shallow fountain by Washington street full of kids splashing in the cool water.
Then the height of summer: very hot, very humid and an unforgiving sun on bright days. We didn’t go to the park so often anymore, it was just too hot. The trees now seemed to have been overtaken by insects. The birds were less conspicuous, maybe they left? The trees were abuzz with crickets and cicadas, and filled with the flickers of fireflies at dusk. There were also more butterflies, silently gliding around. As I walked, taking Little M to school, or running errands, all I could think of was a cold lemonade, preferably with mint and not too sweet.
We did not get to experience the fall season in Princeton.
Too bad, it must be quite a show!
A little bit more about us here!