Home » Segments » More than Four Seasons

More than Four Seasons

Play episode
Hayley, a poet, grew up in Kansas City, then moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities. After the last two winters there, she’s begun to wonder: Have English speakers ever referred to more than four seasons in English? Do other cultures measure time with more than four seasons? Alaskans have a rich vocabulary for periods between the traditional winter, spring, summer, and fall. In Alaska, breakup season is in May, when snow and ice start melting. Breakup is followed by greenup, a sudden, dramatic burst of green as new shoots break through the soil. That mini-season is followed by early summer, high summer, fall, early winter, solstice season, high winter, and springtime winter. San Diegans sometimes repeat this ditty about their Mediterranean climate: Our spring is in the summer. Our summer’s in the fall. Our fall is in the winter. And our winter’s not at all. In other English-speaking parts of the Northern Hemisphere, there are many terms for a period of cold weather following the first taste of warm spring weather. They include blackberry winter, dogwood winter, bloom winter, foxgrape winter, blackbird storm, buzzard storm, oak winter, whippoorwill storm, redbud winter, redwood winter, snowball winter, onion snow, and frog storm. In the UK, there’s also blackthorn winter, and equivalents in European languages as well. Two helpful books about these weather terms are The Essential Book of Weather Lore by Leslie Alan Horvitz and Weather Lore by Ruth Binney. This is part of a complete episode.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show


The Irish English word bockety describes someone who has difficulty walking, or something that’s fallen into a state of disrepair, as...