Yesterday a flock of geese flew in a low jagged line across my property, their discordant honking filling the air. I watched them pass from sight behind the walnut tree that chose that moment to release of drift of leaves from every branch. These signs catapulted me into the realization that a new season is tiptoeing across the landscape.
Do you take advantage of the subtleties of each season to root your storyline in sensations to which the reader can relate?
1. Fall reveals more than it hides.
Sarabeth searched frantically for a stand of trees dense enough to burrow beneath. If she could pull some vegetation around her, she might go unnoticed by the hooded man chasing her. But too many branches were already bare. And the crackle of fallen leaves sent him the message that she had opened only a small lead on her pursuer. Her breath caught in her chest as she saw his dark shadow plowing through the forest only a few yards beyond the slender tree she cowered beside. The night air chilled Sarabeth to the bone. It was too late to run.
2. Fall creates excitement.
Prom queens and farmers mingled in the school gym. The two hometown high schools set aside their rivalry one night each year to participate together in the Community Harvest Ball. Jocks raced up and down ladders, affixing gold and red streamers to the ceiling. Grade school girls squealed every time the arrival of farm wives bearing corn stalks and pumpkins swept into the large room, hurried along by rainy winds.
Mrs. Berghud sighed at old memories and decided to ignore her husband’s not-so-surreptitious “sampling” of the pies lining the table against the wall. She loved this annual kick-off of the holiday season.
3. Winter marks every journey.
The assassin inspected the snow-dusted ice on the lake. There was no way to tell if it was strong enough to hold his weight. His first hesitant step forward triggered a series of snaps and pops from the frozen surface. Behind him, footprints disturbed a layer of fresh snow, each depression pink-tinged with blood from the scene he had just left. There would be no hiding his trail today. He cursed as he made his decision. They say there is no pain in freezing to death.
4. Winter slows time.
Snow flew at a sharp slant across the light of the porch lamp, driven by the howling wind. Abbie was tired to death of the deepening white blanket outside her door. Tired of the bone wrenching cold that hampered every chore she did. Exhausted with worry that the store of supplies wouldn’t hold out. And close to screaming at the solitude enforced upon her now that her husband lay stiff and silent beneath a tarp in the barn.
5. Spring brings new growth.
Moving to Oklahoma turned out to the best decision he’d made. Here, close to the trees and running water, the cabin had been sheltered from the worst of the past winter’s vagaries. Robert stretched his arms wide as if to embrace the land he would pass down to his children’s children. Sweet, soft green leaves tossed at the top of the trees and tipped each branch as far as he could see. Stooping, he sank his fingers deep into the rich soil. Already the sun had warmed it, releasing the rich fragrance of new life.
6. Spring generates action.
Sure as the little green apples appeared on the trees this time of year, Margot got a bee in her bonnet about some new hobby to try every spring. All winter she had read books about barrel racers, and she made up her mind that this was the day she would begin her rodeo career. Since she couldn’t find any empty barrels, she’d start small and work her way up.
It took her a couple of hours to drag hay bales into place in the corral. By then she wished she could just sit in the shade and drink some purple Kool-Aid. But Margot figured every famous barrel racer probably had obstacles to work past, so she saddled up and rode into her arena. Now if only her old pony would move faster than her baby brother’s pet turtle.
7. Summer heats things up.
Pearl fanned her heated face. Why had she never noticed just how fine a chest Duncan possessed? Maybe her new awareness had something to do with the fact that he’d removed his cotton shirt and stood under the hot sun slowly pouring a bucket of water over his head. Her eyes chased sunlit drops of water as they slid across ropes of muscles like a lover’s hand. She licked her lips. Maybe he needed some help drying off. Couldn’t hurt to offer.
8. Summer brings things to fruition.
People on the sidewalk parted as Denton Penfield stalked past, sensing his volcanic rage. A smattering of applause filled the air as he listened to the mayor give his patented I’m-just-one-of-the-people speeches for what felt like the billionth time. Couldn’t anyone besides him see that immoral fool for who he really was?
Denton eased closer, knowing each step of the fat politician’s routine. Yep. There it was. Claymond tugged off his tailored designer suit coat and draped it over the rail around the bandstand. From his back pocket, the man drew a red bandana, wiped his face, and ran it across the back of his neck. Penfield watched his enemy absent-mindedly fold the fabric before stuffing it into the breast pocket of his pristine white shirt. Yes, the man had his homey shtick down to a routine. A predictable routine.
Penfield’s cold smile registered on the man facing him. The red fabric made the perfect target on the mayor’s chest as the younger man raised his gun. His hatred burned as hot as the summer sun when he finally avenged his father’s death.
How are you using the seasons to spice up your manuscript? How many senses can you involve that may trigger a visceral recognition in your reader?