In preschool, we learn about seasons by assigning some simple characteristics:
Winter: Snow and snowmen
Spring: Flowers and green grass
Summer: Hot sun, thunderstorms and swimming pools
Fall: Colorful leaves and pumpkins
It all seems so clear cut, with nice lines dividing up each season into clear periods of time.

In reality seasons aren’t that clear cut. Time is a continuum — a continuum that stands out to me especially in my garden, where the bright pinks and purples of my summer cosmos seem glaringly out of place among the yellows and reds of fall.

Or are they out of place?

Maybe it’s just another type of beauty, a season within a season.

We’re living in the “season within a season” right now, where summer is still hanging on even while fall makes a magnificent entrance. And it’s fitting to have those juxtapositions around me in nature, because I see them all around.

Yellow leaves of the redbud tree have fallen among the pink pansies of summer.

Sometimes the first spring blossoms of crocuses get caught in a late-winter snow. Those thunderstorms that we associate with summer once in a while show up in the dead of winter. The pink zinnias and purple salvia of salvia don’t have a calendar telling them it’s October, and time to stop blooming in order to let pansies take their place in the flowerbeds.

Lately, I’ve seen the season within a season not just in nature. It happens in people as well. Sometimes a person who agrees with political policies such as Medicare expansion and free community college for all might also be pro-life. Sometimes people who vote for Trump for president also vote for Cooper for governor. Maybe they felt like Trump would be good at improving the economy of the United States while Cooper would focus on improving the educational system in our state. Who knows?

I’ve always been proud to live in North Carolina, which political pundits call a purple state. I like the fact that sometimes the electoral votes go to a democratic candidate and sometimes to a republican. Hopefully it means that our state is full of critical thinkers who vote on the issue. Purple also means that sometimes our state might vote for a republican president and a democratic governor all on the same ticket. Take that, pundits!

Just like the seasons, people aren’t straightforward black and white, all or none. There’s a lot of gray. Or in election year terms, people aren’t all red and blue. There’s more purple in us than many are willing to admit. We are definitely living in a polarized time right now, where the red and blue seem to get a lot of attention. But on November 4, no matter what happens in the White House, I hope that the purple in all of us rises above the red and the blue.

My garden might look like summer and fall together, but the driveway definitely is all fall!