Geekygirl is learning at school about Fall (Autumn, to you non Americans), and all of the other seasons too. This is a preschool standard, but the curriculum materials seem to be tailored for a region other than the west coast of the USA. The children have been out scouring the preschool play yard for the scant fallen leaves from the few deciduous trees that we do have here in California, to make that classic artwork, beloved of preschool teachers "the fall leaf collage".
Autumn has always been one of my favourite seasons back in the UK, despite the cold and damp, I loved kicking through piles of leaves, looking for conkers, and seeing my breath on crisp frosty mornings. I love fall here too, since we often get some of our warmest days, and also have some of our best street festivals. A sure sign that fall is on the way in SF is encountering buses filled with men in drag, women in latex and people of all sexes (male, female and everything in between) in leather, tattoos and piercings.
Geekygirl has been learning about the more meteorological signs of season change. Well at least those that one gets on the North Eastern side of the USA. While we were walking to the playground last weekend she started to talk about what she has been learning. "Mummy, it's Fall" she informed me. "Fall is called fall because the leaves turn brown and fall off the trees" She walked along, taking in our surroundings, decidedly green and leafy. Then she turned to me "But, Mummy these trees still have green leaves on them".
"Well yes", I replied. "You see in California, most of the trees actually stay green even though its fall".
"What comes next after Fall?" she asked. "Winter" I said. "So then it will snow and get really cold?" she asked, correctly recollecting the locationally innappropriate information she had been given.
"Well," I paused, feeling rather irritated with the preschool teachers for setting false seasonal expectations, since it never gets cold enough to snow in SF, and if it did we would need ski lifts installed to get up and down our hills. "It will snow in Tahoe in the winter, yes", I said, we can at least drive to winter in three hours, so actually get a good deal of snow time. I could have added "A sure sign of winter here in San Francisco is the ski racks appearing on the roofs of all the Subaru's and Prius's, and the proliferation of folk hobbling around in casts due to snow sport injuries, since the weather itself gives few clues as to the season.", but I decided not to confuse her any more.
"And after winter it's Spring? And the flowers will come out?" She continued demonstrating to me how well she is listening at school. Then she looked around, taking in the brilliant wall of purple bouganvilla we were passing, and the little front yards filled with lavender bushes and yellow roses. "But I can see flowers right now!", she exclaimed, quite correctly. "Well, here in California we get flowers all year round, I replied, but Spring is a season when we will get lots and lots of lovely flowers". I could have added that the only sure sign of spring in our house is the tumbling balls of 'hair dog' that threaten to take over the place. Spring being dog shedding season.
"And after Spring it will be Summer, so I can wear my 'Summer short sleeves"! she concluded. The kid loves to wear spaghetti strap tops, and just about the only season sure not to be warm enough for them is summer, with its foggy gloom. Not that you would know it from the selection of clothes available in the stores. Many a July I have been shopping for a nice turtleneck sweater to keep out the chilly fog that blanketed the medical center where I used to work, only to find the stores full of strappy dresses and shorts, not a warm item in sight, despite the frigid temperatures. After 12 years I have learned to purchase my summer sweaters on those balmy 80 degree October days when the stores are full of winter woollies. I guess the folks at "the GAP" had the traditional interpretation of seasons drummed into them at preschool.