Unlocking: “Here is the truth about the seasons”

Unlocking season in Ottawa.
Unlocking slowly in Ottawa. (photo credit)

A lethal combination of snow and freezing rain is showering down on this part of the world today. Our bulbs our covered in snow, our streets are slippery, our school buses are cancelled.

So where is the promise of Spring?

In one of his many great epiphany’s about life, American writer Kurt Vonnegut says: March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.”

Unlocking: It is the perfect term to describe these days in-between the fully realized seasons, and how they make us feel (not so good!).

Here is the full passage in which Vonnegut describes his theory of locking and unlocking. It is from a wonderful collection of essays and speeches, Palm Sunday: Bits of the Collage (1981), which I am currently reading and loving:

“One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.”

Unlocking is such a beautiful term – it conjures up images of stretching (mind & body), releasing (pain & regrets), rethinking (old ideas & bad habits): transitioning to something better. Perhaps, like the seasons, we all need to unlock a little this time of year. I will unlock in the warmth of my home, reading and falling in love with Vonnegut’s beautiful mind and his way with words.

Like Vonnegut:

“I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.” (Timequake, 1997)



    • Thanks–it is a pretty image, not mine though! (the source is listed) By the end of the day I think our poor tulips will be mostly wilted. What a blizzard. Hope
      things are better where you are!

  1. What a timely post. We left New England for sunny Colorado a year ago, and I’ve found that winter drags on here too. Vonnegut’s ideas about seasons are brilliant. I haven’t read Palm Sunday, or read Vonnegut in years, but now I’m inspired to read it.

  2. What a perfect way of describing those “in between” seasons! In our part of the world this hits the nail right on the head.

  3. Nice idea to popularize since i think it’s pretty true.

    I am reasonably sure Kurt Vonnegut lived to be older than 9 though.

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