Do your dreams reflect the seasons? I’ve talked about some concepts shared by haiku and dreams in the last couple of posts [“Haiku Dreams,” and “Nature Dreams”], and one more of these shared concepts is the way that references to a specific season somehow increase the sense of universality and timelessness in both haiku and dreams.
In haiku, the season is always included, either directly or indirectly—and this provides orientation in the natural world, as well as setting a tone and implying certain common associations understood between writer and reader. Is something similar going on in dreams?
Of course, not all dreams include seasonal references. Last night, for example, my dream fragments all seemed to be set indoors, and I can’t remember anything that would suggest what time of year it might have been. But when there are outdoor settings and a more continuous flow of dreaming, I can usually get at least some impression of a season. More often than not, it’s the same season that is currently happening around me in the waking world—but fairly frequently, there are interesting seasonal shifts or variations.
In early May, in Portland Oregon where I live, dogwoods and lilacs were in bloom, but my dream took place in New England (where I grew up) and reflected the season there at the tail end of winter:
I’m visiting my mother and look out the window to see that the trees are still bare and there’s still a lot of snow on the ground. I want to take a walk, but don’t know if I have my boots, or warm clothes with me. As I watch, it begins to rain, making the snow soggy. I open the door and take a deep breath of the fragrance of mud and melting snow—which evokes a strong sense of childhood springtime. I remember the relief of spring coming after a long, long winter.
This dream brought up associations with the grudging first glimpses of spring in my childhood—a time when I would dig down through the old snow in April just to see and touch some matted green grass. When spring finally did come, it came slowly, with many setbacks, and by the time the season hit its stride, summer was ready to take over.
My associations with spring in Portland are quite different—after several months of heavy gray skies, darkness and cold drizzle, the crocuses and daffodils come into full bloom in February (wow!) and then there’s a rapid cascade of glorious flowerings after that—yellows, pinks, reds, blues, purples—on and on and on. The season is a dazzling panorama of magnificent clouds, warm winds, and explosions of colorful flowers and every shade of new green leaves.
Yet both kinds of spring are within me, and both can arise in my dreams, bringing up their own associated atmospheres, and making the dream world as real as it can be.
I still remember a seasonal dream from when I was a young teenager. In mid-January, it had already been snowing for months, and it was also a relentlessly difficult time within my family. I was struggling with discouragement, and a feeling of emptiness. And then I dreamed:
I’m sitting by the window in French class, trying not to fall asleep. Outside, it is snowing and late-afternoon dark. But then, when I look back a moment later, the sun is shining; there is no snow. The window is open and a blooming forsythia is just outside, with the brightness and fragrance of its yellow blossoms spilling into the room. I am completely lifted up in joy.
It doesn’t take much to evoke strong feelings with just a few words or images associated with the changes of the seasons—and dreams, like haiku, can express seasonal experience with stunning simplicity and grace. The seasons connect us to the world around us, to our memories, to other people and other living creatures. Most of us can feel the intense connection immediately—and even those who live in places where seasonal changes are minimal might feel the subtle shift of different light and shadow, different cloud patterns, different animal activity, different atmosphere at different times of year.
What do your dreams say about the seasons within you? Are you dreaming of the coming summer—or other times of year? Do dreams show you the seasons that belong to places where you live now, where you lived in the past, or where you have never been? Do your dream seasons open your senses and memories?