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Unsold September 1/autumn op-ed

Tuesday 8/31/21

Depressing to have to burn something like this on here. Beautiful piece of writing, though.


Why autumn cannot get here fast enough for me.

The last day of summer, in my view, is always August 31. I’m in the minority when it comes to summer—I hate it. The other day, as I ran 20,000 stairs, I cursed the season itself. I see summer as the time of sloth. Of lounging about. Excuse-making. Slowing down. Building respites into lives that, to my thinking, are already jammed with reprieves.

According to the calendar, summer has a few weeks in her yet, though there is something about the transition from August to September that marks the end of the so-called dog days. Kids resume their formal learning. There are no more vacations to be had. We return to the business of living our lives. That means moving forward, with less corners to be cut than those inevitably loped away in the hotter season.

I’ll tell you why I love autumn and its spirit, why I would make it autumn all year long if I could. The air is bracing and in that air is a challenge. Sure, some heat will remain, but pay attention at any point in September, and even when it’s hot, there are at least those vague notes of smoke. They are beckoning notes, an olfactory reminder to make the most of your time. To spend less of that time telling others you are living your best life—because you’re not—and seizing, with alacrity, all that you can pull into your being.

I feel like we experience the world in a richer way, if we’re willing, in autumn. The walk in the woods has both greater stakes, and feels more meditative. Nature understands that time is of the essence, and it is always best to be preparing. I think that seeps into us, at least on a subconscious level. Woods are busy in September. The trees begin to ready themselves for that which they must withstand, so that they can begin anew when the time is right, but live all the same in the meanwhile.

That may be the best definition of living well. The harvest is coming, when what has been sown is reaped, which brings a reminder—if we’re open to seeing it—that it is best to be perpetually sowing, present in that moment which itself is a kind of harvest that has nothing to do with crops.

We work with the children on the homework again, and maybe their learning—and their delight in learning—rubs off on us. There’s no better time than autumn to learn about that which you know little. How to make a variety of soups. Some tales of Hawthorne. The names of the birds at your outside feeder who you scarcely noticed just a couple weeks ago in mid-August as you rounded up the children for that final pool party.

I celebrate that tang in the air of autumn, and I play this little game of the calendar with myself, moving up the season, to get at it as earliest as I can. And each year, I find that that spirit stays with me longer, it infuses my February, my April, my dog days. It becomes who I am, a reaper in the living sense. Which I personally think is the best, most human way to go, and why I will be glad to see September’s wise face upon the morrow.

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