The New Year is usually the time when we reflect on our lives, and make a concerted effort to change. So why am I talking about that now? In many cultures, this is the start of the new year. Rosh Hashanah starts next weekend, but I’m not Jewish and therefore am not equipped to explain the significance of this day to you.
More relevant to my life is that this is the time of year when a new school year begins. Technically all my school years started in August, so we’re a little behind schedule, but fall has always been the time of new beginnings for me.
I don’t know how I’m going to mark it now that I’m not taking classes anymore, but this season is still my favorite.
As a kid I didn’t think there was anything special about the leaves turning colors, though adults remarked on that point. For me, autumn’s specialness wasn’t tied to nature. I loved the holidays, and the accompanying foods – candy at Halloween, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, all my dad’s homemade soups.
Now that I live outside Washington D.C. the season of fall has another significance: it starts to get cool again. I am the sort of person who much prefers cold weather to hot weather. Not having to sweat all the way to the bus stop is a huge boon of this time of year.
But autumn’s joys, like those of spring, are ephemeral. The heat of summer gives way to a little bit of cool, perfect weather, which never lasts. We talk about the seasons like they follow a natural progression, but it never flows in a perfect circle of cold to cool to warm to hot to warm to cool to cold. For instance, we had milder summer days in mid September, only to shoot back up into the 90s on the first actual day of fall. Yesterday, I remarked to my boyfriend, was the first day I could actually call cool since last spring. We went to get lunch at around noon and the air was still crisp. I hadn’t experienced that in so long I had almost forgotten what it felt like. The artificial coldness of the air conditioning in the library where I work was my only experience of cold this summer.
I suppose life changes are like the changing of the seasons: you don’t just progress along a straight line, always advancing toward your goals. Sometimes you make a big stride and you feel like you’re so close you can touch it, only to fall backwards just as far as you had progressed. It’s cold for a day, then it gets hot again. Sometimes it seems like the heat will never recede. Sometimes it just won’t, and you’re stuck sweating and panting with no relief. It’s time like that when you have to remind yourself that there is such a thing as winter, and you can experience it again.
Even if the only way that seems possible is to abandon your town and move toward one of the earth’s poles.
Photo credit:By Maimaid – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44065963