Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blinking Light Season

It is November and reality cannot be denied – fall is almost over. I love fall, the season when colorful flowers often last until mid-November, leaves turn beautiful reds and yellows, and the weather is sunny and warm during the day. It is perfect weather for gardening (not too hot or too cold), walking (not too hot or too cold), biking (not too hot or too cold) – you get the idea.

Winter will soon arrive. In fact, it is almost here. This morning ushered in a mixed bag of white flurries, light rain and other unnamed stuff pouring from the skies. It may have been precipitation of some kind or pollution of another kind.

The garden begs for attention, wanting to bed down for the winter.

Darkness descends earlier each evening.

Sweaters and jeans, dug out of drawers and reclaimed from storage, replace short-sleeved shirts, capris and sandals.

Mailboxes – both snail mailbox and e-mail – bulge with ads and catalogs, anticipating holiday gift purchases.

Tourists are gone. Snowbirds close up their homes and head south.

A major modification on our island is an additional indication and sure sign of the changing of the seasons. The red-yellow-green traffic lights on one of the two main thoroughfares transform, initiating blinking light season.

The blinking traffic lights appear on one part of the island. There are four towns here, and two contiguous towns participate in this annual off-season rite.

The traffic lights blink yellow 24 hours a day now. There are no red-yellow-green changing lights to watch carefully and consider –
Will the light turn red before I drive through the intersection? Can I safely make it through?
If I slow down now will the light turn green before I reach it, avoiding a complete stop?
How many lights can I drive through before I have to stop?

I can now drive at the same steady speed, savoring the quiet, peaceful atmosphere characterized by few cars and fewer pedestrians.

            How much gas is saved not stepping on the brakes every couple of blocks!?
It definitely takes a lot less time driving steadily down the street, not stopping sporadically. And I have time to look around and enjoy my serene surroundings.

Then I hit my town and the red-yellow-green lights begin again.

The local paper printed some excuse why our town does not adopt the off-season blinking light policy. I did not understand the reasoning and am sure it was an explanation concocted by a local politician who did not have a good answer to the question.

So I savor blinking light season wherever it is for as long as it lasts, sometime mid-spring, when our towns slowly begin to awaken, stir, intense activity begins again, and a steady stream of cars and pedestrians demand red-yellow-green traffic signals once again.