Can I just say that the weather outside of my window is absolutely gorgeous?
After an early summer of temperatures creeping into the upper-90’s or low-100’s with high humidity, I have awoken over the past few days to the coolness of 70 degrees. I celebrated the mild temperatures by throwing open my windows and inviting into my house the fresh breezes of the early morning.
Then, about mid-afternoon, I slammed those windows shut when the sun and humidity carry the temperatures back into the 90’s.
I mention this for two reasons. One, I write best early in the morning. As a person who runs on senses and emotions rather than logic and reason, hearing the birds outside my window or smelling the pines outside my door does more for my well-being than anything else on the planet.
The second reason is that, as I plot my novel, I must make a choice about the season in which the story takes place. When I first mulled over the plot, I imagined summertime in my little mythical town. But now, as the story takes shape, the leaves are changing color and the air is as crisp as a shiny red apple.
So, when should I set my story? Summer? Autumn? Dead of winter? Budding of spring?
The seasons have been filled with symbolism and myth since ancient times when their creation was closely linked to the moods of the gods. For instance, Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, falls into a funk for six months of the year when her daughter Persephone, kidnapped by Hades, the god of the Underworld, must go home to Hell. When Persephone is visiting Demeter, the world is happy and there is spring and summer. Fall and winter begin when the visit is over.
In Japan, the Shinto goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu, flies into a snit when her obnoxious brother Susanoo, the unpopular god of Storms, ruins her weaving. She takes her sunshine into a cave, refusing to come out without coaxing and the distraction of a well-placed mirror. In the meantime, the world is plunged into darkness and famine. Perpetual winter, if you will.
And I thought my children were moody.
In literature, the seasons have come to represent the stages of life:
Spring – birth and youth;
Summer – maturity and young adulthood;
Fall – middle age; and
Winter – old age and death.
Plus, there is no shortage of examples where the seasons reflect the state of the world in which the story is set. In C.S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it is no mere coincidence that Narnia exists in a never-ending winter while the cold-hearted White Witch rules. As she loses grip on her power, the snows melt and spring arrives, symbolizing rebirth and goodness.
Now where does that leave me in my quest for the seasonal setting in my little town? I’m not sure. At the moment, I am leaning towards autumn, simply because I love the changing of the colors and, since there is a college in town, the school calendar gives me a timeline for certain things that will happen.
But I’m also choosing autumn because there is a time of change in middle life, something that at least one of the characters must face before the murder is solved. Is it the victim, the sleuth, or a supporting character?
Ah, another mystery….