In true Springfield fashion, we have abruptly barreled into summer weather, even though it’s only mid-May.
Everywhere I go, I hear the grumblings of locals — shirts clinging, faces splotchy.
“Can you even hear me?” my sister shouts over her roaring air conditioner, which she tells me is straining to drop her car’s temperature a fraction of a degree. “Don’t you miss San Diego right about now?”
The truth is, sometimes. But not for the weather. Since I’ve been back in Springfield, my hometown, my outlook on the seasons here has gone through a metamorphosis.
I lived in central San Diego for the past seven years, where daily temperatures peak within 10 degrees of a perfect-70 all year long.
At first, I posted brag-pictures on Facebook for all my Springfield folks to croon over: sunny palm trees, frosty beers at beachside bars, and brilliant pink sunsets grounded by damp sand. Every day was beach day, park day, hike day.
Within a few years, however, I was done with 70 degrees and sunny.
I’m met with rolling eyes now when I tell locals how much I missed Springfield seasons while I was gone — I missed them so bad I began to complain about “relentless sunshine,” telling my husband my eyes hurt from squinting into the brightness day after day.
Why Springfield’s yo-yo weather is kind of great
Something happens to your brain when the seasons never change. Sameness replaces variation and renewal. Years start to blur together. Easter feels a lot like Christmas, which feels a lot like July 4th. Did we invite the neighbors over for Memorial Day or was it Thanksgiving? Who knows.
Ruts are also harder to climb out of. Your environment doesn’t remind you that time is moving on, and that the years are limited.
I recently told my colleague, Cory Matteson, that I was happy to have seasons again, and he scoffed as if I were a crazy Instagram influencer swooning over Pumpkin Spice lattes. He just moved here from Nebraska, so he’s no stranger to weather that makes you cringe.
I’ve been back in Springfield for nearly a year now, so I’ve gotten reacquainted with every local season (and yes, I know there are more than four).
To the scoffers, I think I might see things you no longer notice — things you take for granted.
Springfield’s seasons are dramatic, memorable and full
While I love a good latte, I was much more struck last fall by how the smell of damp leaves triggered memories of football games from long ago. Memories that hadn’t surfaced in all the years I lived in a coastal desert, where brains are not marked by the changing of seasons.
When fall finally came, I was exhilarated by the long-awaited release from humidity that enveloped the summer; rejuvenated by the feeling that time was finally trotting on after what felt like two years of pandemic stillness.
Raking leaves was therapeutic. Cutting back perennials felt like bookending my summer, covering them gently with mulch and knowing in a few short months they’d burst from the ground again stronger than before.
Then winter came, and my family assured me I’d soon start missing San Diego. Ice! Wind! Gray days that string on and on like paver patio steps on a path to depression. But there are plenty of windy, gray days in San Diego, too. Instead, I delighted in the newness of the cold.
No one needs to be cozy in San Diego, so fireplaces aren’t a thing. Neither are flannel pajamas. And a Christmas tree just doesn’t sparkle the same when it’s not juxtaposed against a stark winter landscape outside your window.
I spent a lot of time staring out my windows this winter; watching rain, sleet and snow fall past the panes. I gawked at Sony Hocklander’s photo essay on Winter in Springfield when she turned it in, and was inspired to venture out to see the changing landscape myself.
I noticed when the snow blanketed my remaining unraked leaves, and the elements turned them into sludge. Sludge that would soon make excellent compost for seeds in the spring.
I used to think spring was perilously short here. A blip. But after living in the land of dust and sand for nearly a decade, spring felt like a dramatic, theatrical miracle. It rained buckets, stormed with fury, and suddenly plants were pushing their way into every imaginable spot — vines wrapping trees, flowers bursting all over yards, and patio tables buried in seeds flown off trees.
My brother, who also recently moved back to Springfield from New Mexico, joined me in reveling about the “possibility for so much life” to survive here. The fertile land is a stark contrast to the barrenness of the West. I found myself snapping pictures of quite ordinary things, like empty lots overgrown into a profusion of tall weeds.
I was enraptured by the idea of fields teeming with life. During the late summer, the insects chirped and trilled into the evening, and the cicadas hollered until sunset.
It was a good reminder that the world is not pavement and buildings, like it was in San Diego. Things live. And I’m living, too.
So yes, I’m about to leave the office in mid-May after a 90-degree day. My car, which unlike my sister’s does not have working A/C, will be sweltering. Next week, we’ll probably get one last snow. Whatever. I like it.
Bring on the Springfield weather.