Late Summer Thoughts

September first always feels a little like the end of summer, despite the almost three weeks left until the equinox. Though I've seen little red and yellow in the trees yet, the leaves have the dry, battered look of late summer. The nights fall earlier, we have clouds and rain more often, and everything is back-to-school in the stores.

(I love back-to-school sales. I cannot walk through WalMart right now without admiring the colors on the notebooks—only fifteen cents for a single-subject spiral-bound!—and checking the patterns on the Trapper Keepers to see if they have anything with unicorns. It takes a lot of self-control to walk out of that store with no more than the items I came in to buy.)

The ending of summer troubles me, though the season has usually worn me down a little with its routine-busting spontaneity and special projects. A walk outside without shivering, a long glance at the bright green and blue of the weeping willow down the street silhouetted against the sky—these charms will shortly go away and will not return for long months. We'll have the short and fantastically lovely spell in October where the willow turns golden and the oak turns red; then the entire world goes gray until late March.

I like color and contrast and light. Gray overwhelms me. In some winter days around here, the clouds are so heavy that at the height of day the brightness may hardly surpass twilight.

With more than four months of cold and rain and gray and other doldrum-inducers, I have to look for things to be happy about. Here, then, are notes from my consolation list; reasons, as it were, for happiness after the end of summer.

Autumn color. I do love it so much. It can be so beautiful around here—last year we had fire and glory in the trees, the only really lovely thing the weather did all year excepting sunshine on my wedding day.

Holidays. Halloween, All Saints' Day, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, New Years' … I love the holiday season. My birthday being in January helps to break up the endlessness of the post-holiday winter months.

Wrapping up in a blanket and reading. The best way to beat winter is to make a cozy home, keep warm food and drink around, and read ripping good tales amongst the comforts. Flannel sheets are another great cold-banisher, though when spring comes back I'll be excited about the cool cotton ones.

Candles and lamps. I hate giving up sunlight, but when I have to, soft light is the sweetest substitute.

Routine. Lou and I thrive on it, individually and as a couple. I like having orderly days and weeks. We don't depend on school for scheduling any more, but enough of society does that social life seems to fall into something nearer calm regularity.

NaNoWriMo. I have finally decided which story to write for my first NaNo adventure, though two of my other potential plots still sometimes wave at me shouting “Pick me! Pick me! It's not November first yet!” It's not going to be easy, but I have a lot of thoughts about this theme now; another time, that might not hold true.

This year: Rome. I have spent a lot of time on Rick Steves' site. After reading his suggestions several times, I've run a practice pack and discovered that I should not have any trouble packing for the entire fortnight in, as he recommends, a 21”x13”x9” backpack (limited to 20lb). Sweet freedom! Lou and I are also studying Italian in preparation. This is challenging, as I'm a know-it-all who doesn't like being regularly bested by anyone, even the best man in the world. (Lou has years of Latin and a previous attempt on Italian in his favor, not to mention the fact that he's smarter than I am.) Remember Hermione in Potions class, when Harry scores better than she does thanks to the Half-Blood Prince? That's me getting beat in a language study, frizzing hair and all.

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Should it please God, I have much worth anticipating in fall and winter. I'll look further in January.

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