One of the reasons I love living in Missouri so much is the slow and yet dramatic change of seasons. Fall started a few weeks ago and slowly but surely trees started to change the color of their leaves. Some leaves turn a brilliant yellow, others a dark red while still others prefer changing to a burnt orange. The less imaginative trees change into brown leaves. Even the dull brown leaves, when mixed with the yellows, red, and oranges add to the pallet of color that rounds out the picture as a whole. The added bonus is that not all trees change at the same time so you can still see plenty of different shades of green mixed in with the other colors. Soon the trees that change early begin to drop their leaves making a beautiful crunchy carpet upon the ground while the rest of the trees are beginning or continuing to change. Eventually as the winds shift a little to the north and pick up a chill that makes them blow a little harder, all the trees will drop their leaves and this massive thick luxurious carpet that is thick and noisy is complete. The days continue to shorten as winter nears. The night air feels fresh and cool and occasionally a rainstorm will pass through the area quieting the carpet of leaves for a few days.
The first signs of winter start to arrive in the middle of December. The air and the winds become colder, penetrating your skin and sending chills all up and down your body. The jackets and coats are brought from the closets where they have been resting since last winter. The occasional rainstorms start to carry little bits of ice with them once in a while as a reminder of what is to come. Every now and then the rain will be completely ice, making the tires of cars and the sneakers of people like ice skates without the blades on the bottom. Some trees break under the pressure of the ice but the trees that are strong and hold the ice upon their limbs look like they were carved from crystal the next morning when the sun shines down on them. By mid January and into February, the temperatures turn cold and stay that way. The rain which had enough cold to turn to ice now turns into snow and that is when the fun of winter begins. There is work to do before the fun like getting a big shovel and cleaning the snow from driveways, sidewalks and streets but after the chores are done the snow makes like a white, cold fluffy sandbox that covers everywhere. Playing in the snow wears you out quickly though as the cold grabs the energy from your body so you go inside to a warm house and have a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and let the warmth of it all slide over you and in you until you can not keep your eyes open and fall into a restful slumber.
Along about the first week or so of March winter begins to loosen it's grip on the land and it's people. The days are getting longer and they are getting warmer. It gets very messy along this time as the snow begins to melt and turn into this dirty slush that paints all the cars the same color. The winds warm a little and shift from the north to the southwest. It becomes warm enough for rain to return and help clean the leftovers of winter off the streets. As it gets closer to the month of May, the weather becomes dangerous as cold fronts and warm fronts collide over the plains, throwing the rain storms in all different directions and spawning the terror of the mid-west. The funnel clouds that drop from the sky go by different names depending upon where you live. In Texas they are twisters while in Missouri they are called tornadoes. These products of nature in the spring are powerful enough to destroy whole towns in their path. Their course of travel is unpredictable and their appearance is mostly a surprise as well. When the tornadoes aren't terrorizing the plains beautiful things happen. Soft spring showers of rain that leave the air fresh and clean. Rainbows arc across the horizons and the sun's warmth feels very comforting. The trees begin to come back to life first pushing out little buds on their limbs that soon become brilliant green leaves.. Flowers start to crawl out from under the dirt and then bloom in a festival of colors along a landscape that has been barren white for too long. Baseball bats and gloves come out and windows are broken by over anxious young batters that swing just a little too hard yet are lucky enough to make contact with that white ball with red stitching. Neighbors reacquaint themselves with each other after keeping warm indoors all winter. The temperatures are pleasant and just a hint of coolness at night. Spring is what people in Missouri really wait for every year. Celebrations of Easter and graduations fill the weekends and a trip to the stadium for a ball game is long over due.
When all is going along just fine the month of July hits like a slap across the face. Summer is here and it is sure to make its presence known to everyone. The humidity in the air increases to where there is more moisture in the air than air. The heat begins to climb and continues to climb into August. It becomes a chore to walk around behind a lawnmower to keep the lawn looking as decent as possible under these conditions. The heat continues to build and when September arrives and school begins, the people of Missouri are fooled into thinking that fall has returned. September has a difficult time knocking down the heat though and the summer seems like it has lasted forever. People begin to spend more time indoors to keep cool just as they had stayed indoors in February to keep warm. The days are long giving the heat more time to slightly scorch the land. Then comes the first sign of fall returning as the baseball playoffs begin for that means October has arrived and October has the power to slap down the heat that September did not have. Days begin to shorten again and the night air begins to cool. The leaves watch each other to see which one will be the first to start to change into their fall outfits of orange, red, or yellow as the cycle of seasons begins to repeat itself once again for another year.