Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
I’m 43. A year on Carroway is fifty-six earth years long. Its long, lazy, almost-circular orbit kept it temperate for that whole time but the ecosystem had evolved to create 126 distinct ‘seasons’. I’d read of Earth’s four seasons of summer, winter, spring and fall repeating every twelve months. Sounded monotonous.
I’ve lived my whole life here on Carroway and I haven’t seen a single season twice. They’ve all been recorded so it’s possible to read up and prepare for them as they happen but I’ve been faced with challenge after challenge.
There’s crystal season when the mineral deposits go through a growth spurt and push up out of the earth like translucent horns. There’s a season of trees that grow up into the lower atmosphere. They stand with smooth bark, silent and ominous until they start humming. Their vibrating roots fissure open the ground and release the grass fog season. Then the trees themselves flower, blotting out the sun. Then there is a pollenfall season as the skyscraper trees die and the sun returns, shining down through their now-nude branch clusters.
The trees become soft and unstable, sinking back down to the ground like wilted celery. It’s a dangerous time. Luckily the trees bow slowly.
There aren’t many animals here except for the season when the kangabears come out of hibernation for six months and gorge themselves on the fallen skyscraper trees before going back to sleep for another fifty-six years.
There’s a season where the planet hums. The theory is that a deep-earth tectonic shift happens, making the core rub the mantle harder than usual. Like a planet headache. You get used to it until the earthquake stops it. After that, the planet feels too silent for a while.
The magnetosphere and dust particles cause shifts in the sky colour depending on what season just happened. I’ve seen eighteen different hues up there. There’s ashfall here after the post-humming eruptions. Then pigments in the ash-eating bacteria turn it all into a blue slime that dissipates until the pink grass shows up to eat the slime, turning itself blue in the process.
There’s a red snow season. There’s a season of thorned tumbleweeds. There’s a season of long, thin raindrops that hang down from the clouds like hair. Soon the season of ivy migration begins. And then the flowerworks seed pod explosion festival.
There’s a plant based war happening here that’s been going on for millions of year. It’s found a cycle. Each victor dying and feeding the next. Each challenger inadvertently existing as part of a larger circle.
Some people can’t handle the variety here but I love it.
Thirteen more years and I’ll have seen all the seasons Carroway has to offer. Not too many people in the universe can claim that, especially a human like myself with a relatively short life span. I wear that badge with honour.
Every Carroway meal I’ve had has only been for a few months, never to be seen again. I think back to the pink pricklepears I had when I was six. The thick leafsteaks I had when I was ten. The delicious brandyberries that showed up on my twenty-second birthday. So many tastes.
I’ve recorded them all here in my books. I’m the first human to keep a firsthand record of all the seasons here on Carroway.
Some cycles don’t seem like cycles because they last such a long time.
I’m looking forward to the end of the ‘year’.