Seasonal Variation: A Promising Forecast
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Winter sneezed violently and blew unceremoniously into a crumpled handkerchief. Tenaciously, he inserted a gnarled toe into a bucket of steaming water, wrapped a towel around his quaking shoulders and attempted to still the chatter of his teeth as the chill winds raked his aging body.
"Mighty fine weather we've been having!" drawled Summer, reclining in her deck chair, soaking up the rays.
Winter eyed her coldly. "Sure is, on your part of the calendar," he replied glumly.
Summer flippantly adjusted her sunglasses and lazily sipped her fruit punch.
"You'd think they could install some heating in this place," the frosty season complained.
"Well darlin'," Summer replied condescendingly, "We've got plenty of it where I come from!"
Winter regarded her bikini-clad figure with disdain. He was about to formulate a rebuke when their bickering was punctuated by a shrill cry. They spun around to find Autumn despondently regarding his reflection.
"It''s going!" he wailed pathetically, clutching at the few remaining strands that dangled from his crown.
"What is?" Winter inquired half heartedly.
Autumn couldn't bring himself to reply. He ran a hand through the remainder of his crowning glory and shook his head sadly as his worst fears were confirmed. As March faded into April, his panic mounted, reinforced by Summer's tactless taunts. "You're losin' it, buddy!" she often remarked, cackling at her own wit.
"Cheer up!" suggested Spring as she cavorted through a meadow, pausing periodically to inhale the heady aroma of the flora that bloomed around her. She slung a daisy chain around the downcast season's neck as she pranced past.
"Easy for you to say," sniffed Autumn, eyeing her fertile tresses enviously.
"Conceited little so-and-so!" snapped Summer, fingering her leathery complexion and comparing it to Spring's dewy peaches and cream features.
This comment brought Winter charging to innocent Spring's defence. He had always had a soft spot for the gentle, benevolent season. Autumn, whose usually placid disposition had been invoked to irritability by his predicament, soon joined the argument. The disagreement was about to escalate to a physical level, when a shrill whistle resounded around the entire year. The Seasons paused mid shriek, shout or sneeze in Winter's case, and spun around. There was only one being in the universe who could whistle at that pitch and instantly gain their attention. The door flew open, revealing the silhouetted figure of the angry Sun, his brow furrowed, his face overcast.
"Have you no integrity?" he demanded incredulously. "You are brothers and sisters, yet you bicker and quarrel like farm-yard animals!"
Spring averted her eyes shamefacedly, Winter busied himself with blowing his nose and Autumn stopped gazing anxiously at his reflection. Summer regarded the proceedings with a scornful expression on her sun-kissed face. The Sun continued his admonition of his charges, "It is imperative that you collaborate amicably. Your cooperation is crucial to the nature of all things!"
"Hmph!" Summer snorted at the absurdity of this abstract concept. The Sun dimmed noticeably and turned to regard the arrogant season icily. "I think I need some assistance with this one," he muttered under his breath. "Er...excuse me, Ms Wind, do you have a moment to assist me?"
The wind waltzed through, dislodging Summer's sun hat and upturning the refreshment perched precariously on the arm of her deck chair. The sarcastic season exclaimed in horror as the chilled liquid trickled onto her exposed abdomen. The Sun attempted to conceal the slight upturn of his lips that signified his amusement.
"Yes, Mr Sun," Ms Wind addressed her employer politely. "What may I do to be of assistance?"
"Oh, dear Ms Wind," the Sun assured her, "You have already done enough."
As the wind fluttered out of the room, the Sun directed his attention to the distressed form of Winter hunched over a steaming bowl in a vain attempt to clear his sinuses.
"What seems to be the problem?" probed the Sun gently.
"Well," replied Winter, nasally, "apart from this horrendous weather and its conductivity to ill health, nobody likes me!" His voice trailed away in a series of breathless sobs.
The Sun shook his head at Winter's obvious lack of self esteem and made a mental note to recommend professional intervention. For the moment, he tried to rectify the situation by pointing out the absurdities of Winter's beliefs. "Many people thrive in Winter," the Sun pointed out.
"But they worship Summer," Winter sniffed.
"What about all the ice skaters and skiers," the Sun suggested. "They live for the first snow fall. Not to mention all those people who don't have the luxury of artificial winter during those uncomfortably hot summer days."
Summer appeared rather put out at the emphasis on these last words. She found it impossible to conceive that anyone could not worship and adore her completely.
"Hey, maybe you're right." A glimmer of hope shone in Winter's eyes as he began to perk up. "You know," he declared. "I'm going to make the best of it!" He discarded his handkerchief and strapped on his skates. The Sun guffawed at his enthusiasm. "Well now," he said. "That's taken care of. What about you, Autumn? What's troubling you?"
"I'm losing my crown of glory," the balding season explained sadly.
"It will be regenerated," the Sun assured him confidently. "As all things are when balance is restores. It's the nature of things. Decay and destruction don't really exist; it's all illusion."
"You really think so?"Autumn persisted.
"I know so," replied the Sun confidently, chuckling as Autumn discarded his toupee.
"Now what should we do about you?" the Sun inquired, turning to Summer. "Have you no concerns?"
"Me?" replied this season incredulously. "I lead a life of leisure; everybody loves me. I can't say I don't pity the other seasons. They've all got their problems, but what more could I...?"
The Sun was concerned at this obvious display of arrogance. "This won't do at all," he interjected. "This will unbalance the entire scheme of things!
"Perhaps your existence is not the embodiment of perfection that you like to believe it is," the Sun suggested bluntly. Summer looked aghast.
"What about the bushfires and the tropical cyclones that wreak havoc for so many people throughout your season?" continued the Sun. "What are you doing about those?"
Summer lowered her mascarad lids shamefacedly. The high colour of her cheeks could be attributed to more than sunburn. Demurely she left her holiday spot and trundled back to the office to rectify these business matters that had accumulated during her extended vacation.
"Hmm," murmured the Sun reflectively. "Somehow I don't think we'll have to worry about her department any more."
Winter and Autumn exchanged grateful glances.
"Now for Spring," said the Sun, taking a deep breath. "Where has she got to?"
"Probably off with the fairies somewhere," commented Winter wistfully. Autumn couldn't ignore the gleam of affection that shone in his eyes. It was some time before Spring was discovered on the other side of the hill, picking flowers.
"Problems?" she repeated perplexedly when the Sun inquired if she had any. "What are they?"
The two Seasons preceding her grinned at the genuine confusion Spring displayed. The Sun sighed thankfully. He could finally have a good night's rest now that these crucial seasonal adjustments had been made.
"Well, I'm off!" he declared. "Now you musn't forget, dear Seasons, enjoy the time you have been allocated to perform centre stage, as well as the time you are off duty. Above all, work together, for it is not only your own existence that depend upon it..."
With this profound message hanging in the breeze, the Sun took his absence, leaving behind four Seasons whose outlooks had taken on a new direction. Spring continued in her carefree ways, yet in the outer recesses of her consciousness the realisation dawned that she would need to adopt some responsibility - one of these days.
Although Summer would never become a workaholic, she began to pull her diminutive weight in the labour department, softened her callous tongue and found that others appreciated her even more.
Autumn cancelled his tricological treatment and cultivated a well-rooted faith in the process of life. The reduction in his stress levels ensured that his alopeciac condition rectified itself.
Winter became a whole new season! He leapt out into the chill air enthusiastically, constructed snowmen and revelled in the thrill of downhill skiing. At the end of a frosty, but enjoyable day, he pulled off his mittens and toasted marshmallows to enjoy with his hot chocolate as he nestled against Spring by the open hearth.
The Sun settled himself comfortably on a plush cloud and regarded the activities of his charges with regal satisfaction.
"Well, Ms Wind," he commented, "we seem to have done a good job."
"Oh yes, Mr Sun," the Wind gushed. "You've done very well. Very well indeed."
The Sun glowed at this ardent praise, then lowered his eyelids modestly. Before he set, the Sun stretched and murmured sleepily, "I'm just glad that the Seasons are happy once again and that harmony has been restored to the calendar."

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Copyright 1993 Ilanit Tof, All Rights Reserved.