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When I was living in Cairo I never felt except two seasons, summer and winter. But the two most beautiful seasons of spring and autumn were completely lost in the overcrowded streets, full of car exhaust, tall concrete buildings and rushing people.
It is only when I moved out of the city into what is referred to as the desert, but is really a very lunch residential compound, that I started feeling the seasons and their change, and discovered that I was missing the most beautiful of the seasons, spring and autumn.
Each one has its own beauty, heralding a different time. The first hint of spring to me is, in April, the appearance of the buds on the apricot tree, then in just two weeks, they bloom this eye catching pink. Suddenly the whole garden is waking up, tiny new, beautifully clean, shiny leaves on the trees, flowers that start to bud, then bloom, and the birds! The number and variety is unbelievable. Never had I ever noticed the different kinds, sizes and colors of birds, and the different melodies of their calls. There is one particular bird, slightly larger than the average small grey ones common to Cairo, which has longer legs, and a longer beak, and the most vibrant blue chest and black, black wings. Absolutely awesome in its beauty. Also the very quality of the air changes, the sharp cold loses its edge and becomes softer. The sun starts taking on more of a sparkle and everything that is new on the ground shines in response. The height of spring lasts but a very few weeks, then the heat creeps in, and suddenly, a heat wave, and you know we have hit summer. Unfortunately, part of our beautiful spring is marred by the ‘khamaseen’, those dust laden winds that attempt to tarnish all that beauty. But still, spring in Egypt is one lovely season.
Once summer sets in, we go from heat wave to to heat wave, with a slight respite in between them, when the weather, especially during the famous Egyptian summer nights, cools down to lovely refreshing breezes, that makes for enjoyable long evenings spent outdoors.
The first hint of autumn comes around the end of August, which is quite a surprise, as previously, in Cairo, August and September are still quite warm, even half way into October as well. But out of Cairo, now towards the end of August the weather starts to cool down. The first hint I get is when the water in the pool starts getting a bit uncomfortable during the evening, and the breeze makes me shiver coming out of the pool. Then in the morning, while breakfasting in the open, the breeze is slightly cooler than previously. The quality of the air again changes and cools down. Quite a reprieve after the heat. Strangely enough, the garden again blooms during that season that heralds winter where everything goes dormant. It is like nature is getting a last chance to renew itself, before going into a deep sleep, reminiscent of death. The flowers are ferocious in their color and growth, everything hints at desperation, hurry, hurry before it is too cold. It is breathtakingly, agonizingly beautiful in its transience. But the relentless cold creeps in, the leaves start to turn that painful rust color, before they shrivel up and fall into a carpet of red, brown and yellow. One by one the blooms turn black and fall off. Till finally the air has a sharp edge and all growth is still. Winter has set in, with all its crackling air, weak, though bright sun, and total stillness. Very few birds, except those high up migrating to warmer climates, and only those indigenous to Egypt are left warming themselves in the struggling sun. The winds finally pick up and blow away the remaining leaves, to reveal the gnarled branches naked, shivering, waiting for the first hint of warmth at the beginning of the following spring.