Monday, September 29, 2008 4:11 PM
Welcoming Autumn in Playa del Carmen
Life in a tropical climate comes with a host of challenges. The scorching sun, the heat, the unrelenting humidity all take some getting used to. (We’re not even going to begin the BUG discussion) After four years, our blood has certainly thinned sufficiently and we have acclimated to the weather of our region. There are certain differences that, no matter how long we live here, we will never truly adjust to. Coming from the northeastern United States, the change of seasons and the accompanying changes in temperature and our surrounding landscape, are ingrained so deeply in our perception of “the way the world works” that we are left every year feeling like something is missing at certain times of the year.
In reality, we do have seasonal changes here, some of which are more obvious than others. Nights in December are considerably chillier than those in June. Perhaps not so chilly as to require the purchase of the heavily quilted jackets, scarves and gloves that appear in the local department stores starting in about mid-October, but certainly cold enough to consider a light sweater or jacket when going out in the evening. In the spring, many trees begin to drop their leaves. Autumn brings daily rain showers and the occasional hurricane. The fluctuations we experience are more subtle and as such, some of the anticipation, the build up before each change of season is somewhat dulled.
In an effort to help our children recognize and look forward to the regular cycles of nature throughout the year, the schools that they attend, both Waldorf inspired scholastic communities, mark the change of season with annual festivals. The first event that our children prepare for every Fall is the Festival of San Micael. This festival, which coincides each year with the Autumnal equinox, celebrates the harvest, the balance of the universe and marks a time when we are asked to look inward and incite a battle with our own personal dragons. El Papalote’s version of this festival incorporates elements of the early pagan ceremony with the medieval Christian celebration of Michaelmas.
There are several festivals throughout the school year, each encouraging the participation over every student teacher and parent. My two small children are just now starting to anticipate the festivals and really look forward to the flurry of activity at school, preparing the stage, learning songs and making colorful decorations and at home as I struggle to create new costumes, lovingly fashioned together with fabric glue and safety pins. While they may miss out on the turn of the colors, tapping maple trees and jumping in piles of leaves, we do our best to make sure our children are being provided with opportunities to make a meaningful connection from their day to day lives to the progression of the seasons and to the world around them.