By Karis Walsh
I’m the first to joke about the monotony of seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Rain, slightly warmer rain, rain, slightly colder rain. We’re green and damp and mossy year-round. But we web-footed Washingtonians and Oregonians have learned to recognize the four seasons by subtle clues – the feel in the air, the urge to be active or to hibernate, the type of drink in our coffee cups. It might look like a solid year of rain to an outsider, but every season has its distinct flavor and scent and mood.
In my new book, Sea Glass Inn, my character Melinda Andrews has gone through a year of upheaval. For Mel, each season has been marked by a life-changing event, and – in the age-old tradition of life imitating art – my own year has mirrored hers in many ways. We both experienced a year of change and growth and hope.
Spring: A Venti Triple-Shot Latte to chase away the breezy chill in the air and wake us out of hibernation… Although Sea Glass Inn doesn’t begin in the spring, Mel’s personal story begins there. A divorce. Change. At the time, all she can see are the endings of relationships and familiar lifestyles. But the invisible seeds of new beginnings have been sown, and although she stands at a crossroads – nervous and alone – she boldly takes her first steps forward into a new life. That’s what I love about Mel. She insists on looking at the destruction of old ways and seeing the potential with optimism. It’s not always easy to do when we’re hurting and in turmoil – she knows that, and we know that – but it’s always worth making the effort. My own spring was filled with changing relationships as well. Some ending, some growing stronger and more cherished. My optimism came out on the page as I wrote my fourth book. Nothing like a little romance to rebuild our faith in love’s promise.
Summer: An Iced Latte to cool us off on those rare and lovely sunny days… In the book, we don’t see Mel in the summer, but we follow her memories back to the sunny day when she bought both a painting and a new home. Summer is warm and beautiful and fertile. It’s the time to fill our worlds with new experiences, new places, new people. Travel and taste life when it’s at its most bountiful. Stuff ourselves with the raw materials we need in order to create. For Mel, it was an inn, a chance for a new life. Rooms to restore and decorate and fill with guests. For me? Small journeys to favorite places. Locations that will be filled with my characters and their stories in future books.
Autumn: A Pumpkin Spice Latte to soothe our souls, quiet our minds, and gather us close to home for the holidays… Our story starts in the fall, when Mel makes her big move to the Oregon coast. This is a season of huge growth for her. An awesome blend of hibernating – as she settles into her home and works to restore both the inn and her own life – and of exploding out into the world – as she finds her way through some rough spots and toward a second chance at love. Mel and I were closest during this season. Partly because I was working on the final edits for her book, and partly because I also got to experience the wonderful dichotomy of settling in with work at home while, at the same time, branching out with new connections and friendships.
Winter: A Peppermint Mocha with Whipped Cream and Sprinkles to both refresh our minds and warm our hearts as we burrow in for winter and look forward to spring… Our journey with Mel ends as she moves through the winter and into a brand new spring. This one will be as filled with change and growth as the previous one, but now she is stronger and ready for whatever life throws at her. She’s been tested and she’s succeeded. Both Mel and I are looking forward to the spring and the new relationships and experiences we’ll discover there. Because it doesn’t matter what the weather brings or what the seasons look like as they change – what matters is that we seek love throughout the year, in all its forms and ever-evolving glory.