Summer brought the end of school and especially the beginning of baseball season. I recall getting into my uniform to go play that night’s game and feeling both nervous and excited. I can still smell the leather of my ball glove. The days always seemed to be too hot, and the nights brought brilliant displays of heat thunder and lightning. After it rained, the steam would rise up from the road with that “wet pavement” smell that only occurred in the summer. Hours were spent playing outdoors, and an evening game of hide-and-seek was only interrupted by dinner out on the back patio. The shade of any close tree provided some coolness from the sun, and we slept with the windows wide open. It always seemed as if summer would never end.
Fall was a bit depressing because that meant school was starting up again (little did I realize then that I would spend most of my adult years dreading that same start). However, there was that crispness in the air that immediately told you that it was autumn. Because I was always too busy playing to notice that the leaves had changed colors, I was always surprised to see that the surface of the ground was “all of a sudden” covered with them. Fall also signaled the start of football season, and we spent the time after school replaying that week’s “big game” in the back yard. I think fall was the hardest time to gauge the weather, and on too many occasions I was caught unprepared for either a big rain or for really cold temperatures. No matter what, just looking around at the hills covered in a sea of browns, reds, and yellows made up for any and all misfortune that may have tried to ruin my day out.
Eventually, with the onset of adulthood, I became a teacher, and the four seasons quickly changed to just two: the school season and summer. When school was in session, there was no time to experience much of the world around us because to do a good job, teaching required a 24/7 commitment. When summer did finally arrive, much of it was filled with visiting family, completing all of the chores around the house that had accumulated, and “recharging the batteries” and renewing the passion for the upcoming new school year.
It wasn’t until retiring that we finally were able to enjoy the changing seasons and all the joy that they provided. For the first time in thirty years we had autumn again, and it was especially sweet—particularly the fact that we didn’t go back when school started. Each season had the potential once again to be my favorite one.
To celebrate this seasonal renewal in painting, I plan to create a series of four three-panel folding screens. Each panel symbolizes one month for that season. The inspiration for this series came from reading Masterpieces of Japanese Screen Painting (©1990) by Miyeko Murase. Several of the painted screens covered in the book included seasonal themes, however Soami’s 16th century screen Landscape of the Four Seasons (see pages 88 and 90-93) persuaded me to paint my own seasonal series of screens.