Friends, there are 9 days left in summer. Social media is already buzzing with autumn memes celebrating the beginning dark half of the year. I can’t help but think, what’s wrong with you people?
Sure, I like crisp air, colored leaves, apples and pumpkin spice, but I think of them as Mother Nature luring us with candy before chaining us to a radiator in the basement for 4 months. I take the treats warily, knowing that rejecting them won’t save me from winter forcing a hood over my head and stuffing me into a windowless van.
My spirituality includes a large dose of Paganism. I celebrate the Wheel of the Year with a candelabra that holds candles color coded to the 4 Solar Sabbats and the 4 Lunar Esbats (lunar festivals tied to the harvest cycle). I observe the lunar year, which begins on Chinese New Year, and patiently sit out the arbitrary turning of the Gregorian calendar that is typically celebrated with excessive noise and bad choices, followed by drunk driving.
In every Solar Sabbat, the other spokes on the Wheel of the Year are implied. When we celebrate the longest day of the year, the progress toward the dark half of the year begins. When we celebrate the Winter Solstice and the beginning of the cold season, the sun begins its journey back toward us. It reminds us that all parts of the year are necessary and time marches on. When times are at their darkest, the light is on its way. When times are at their brightest, the dark lurks around the bend. To everything there is a season.
So why am I so impatient with the chipper October Meme Mafia? Because, like many members of this blog’s audience, autumn is not an invigorating time but the end of our easy season. The chill wakes up aches and pains gone dormant. The exercise we need becomes harder to get. Once the harvest is over, it gets harder to find fresh food.
This autumn is especially hard on me because I missed out on so much summer. My knee was almost rehabbed by late August when I missed the bath mat coming out of the shower and bashed the hell out of it again. The bright side of that is, as the hematoma fades and the swelling recedes, it seems to be taking weight better that it has in a long time. I think I may have knocked my kneecap back in the right direction and I have the winter to prepare it for better luck next summer.
I managed to have some great adventures this summer, but still, it was all Plan B. The coming of autumn means it’s too late and I have to wait another 5 or 6 months for a redo. I try not to think about it that way, but that’s how it feels.
I have to be careful to keep my left arm warm enough in winter because the metal doesn’t hold onto warmth like bone, and if it gets chilled, it’s like a miserable ice cream headache in my arm. My reattached right hand throbs from the cold a good 15 degrees before my left. The cold projects a holographic image in my mind of my old x-rays, reminding me where every fracture was, even the one in my skull. Put me outside without a hat and I could draw a perfect fracture line on my scalp with a Sharpie.
Long sleeves mean irritation to my scarred wrist. I made a wrist band out of swimsuit material that clings and protects the skin from rubbing by sleeve cuffs. It’s a little creepy, like Summer Glau’s Dr. Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (obscure sci-fi nerd reference), but it gets it done. I also adore thumbhole sleeves because they minimize the rubbing.
All this being said, I wouldn’t want to move to a southern climate where there is less seasonal variation. I’ve been to Florida in February and loved that it didn’t get dark until 7:30ish, but I’ve also been to Florida in June when I was horrified that it was already dark by 8:00ish. The light half of the year north of the 48th parallel is a joy to me, when it isn’t really dark until after 10 at the Solstice and it’s bright sunlight when the cats wake me at 5:30. I guess it’s worth the dark half of the year, though my friend Sarah said it well—“I don’t know how anything can thrive on less than 8 hours of light a day.” Winter knocks down the bug population and I feel like the northern latitudes are somehow cleaner because of winter’s sweep. Our colder lakes and rivers are definitely less gross to swim in, and the cold is refreshing under a hot summer sun.
I know people who hate summer. There are all kinds of people in the world and I wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone is the same, but I can’t suppress my shudder of “that’s just wrong.” I know one person in my audience (Hi Heather) whose health problems are aggravated by the heat. To people like Heather, I sincerely wish you a happy and healthy autumn. Meanwhile, we will get an “Indian summer” and I will laugh evilly and run out for a final swim at the lake in my hot-turquoise swimsuit while the October lovers are out shopping for sweaters in muted adult colors.