My name is Tom Cooper. I am the director of a medium-sized public library in a suburb of St. Louis County, Missouri. I have always lived in the St. Louis area.
Years ago, I began to ponder a simple question: why is autumn the only season, among four seasons, that has two names? I would occasionally take a few minutes and research this question. I work in a library, after all, and research is as easy as walking out my office door and into the Reference Room. What I found was that there is no simple explanation for why Americans–and it is predominantly Americans–say ‘fall’ instead of ‘autumn,’ and have no other names for the other seasons.
Eventually I found that my interest in the seasons as phenomena in themselves was growing. Through all the changes there have ever been on Earth, there have always been seasons. The seasons have greatly influenced everything about human life, from the development of civilization to religion to government, science and economics–even war! Nothing happens without some aspect of seasonal influence.
For years now I have been researching the effects of the seasons on human life and culture, and working on a book called The Varied God: On the Human Experience of the Seasons. The title comes from a poem by the 18th century Scottish poet James Thomson, who wrote a famous and influentual suite of poems called The Seasons. He also wrote a sort of coda to this major work, a short poem called A Hymn to the Seasons, and this is a famous line from that poem.
Who knows if I’ll ever finish my book? In the meantime, I hope to share here some of my thoughts and some of the things I’ve learned. I hope you enjoy these musings.