Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Autumn Reflections

You can smell it....it's in the air. Fall. The air's starting to turn crisp, the evenings and nights are cool, the oversized, thick IKEA duvet is back on the bed, and every once in a while, you can detect the faintest hints of wood smoke in the air, wafting up from a neighbour's fireplace. I have always considered Fall to be my favourite season and a time when I'm at my best, but it's also slightly melancholy. It's a time of regeneration, of taking chances, because winter's on its way and I know it's going to be miserable.

This morning I was reminded of another end-of-summer reality: the beginning of the school year. Ever since graduation from university, September's felt a little strange. Like a lot of other people, I defined the start of my year as the first day of school, not New Year's Day. If someone said "last year," I would find myself thinking in school-year-sized chunks, with a vague limbo zone, in between "years," representing the summer months. This is the third "Frosh Week echo" I've experienced, and it still affects me. Maybe it always will.

I have to admit that I got used to the summer. It happens every year. The relaxed atmosphere is especially telling when it comes to the commute, with light traffic on my way to the park-and-ride and an easy job of finding a free seat on the bus. This morning, however, everything changed. There was a steady flow of nervous students inching their way up my street towards the two schools that are beside my townhouse, keeping me from merging with traffic for a good five minutes. There were more cars on the road, with a distinct rise in the number of minivans meandering along their way, with kindergarteners and grade-schoolers firmly strapped into the back seats. The formerly deserted bus station was crawling with people. There was a fifty-person line-up at the ticket window, preventing me from buying my new bus pass. I opted for paying the $2.25 instead....I'll buy mine later. And then the bus was back to being a human cattle-car, flooded with clashing odours of perfume, hairspray, and sweat and packed with the gloomy, scowling visages of commuters heading back to their desk jobs and classes after a long vacation.

But I suppose it's all worthwhile when the trees start turning, painting the hills and laneways around where I live with fiery oranges, yellows and scarlets. A time to keep my trusty Canon camera and telephoto lens close at hand to capture the poignant moments of this brief, colourful season. A time to wear my suede jacket, my fleece vest, and my jeans and sweaters again. A time for holding hands with my girlfriend on long walks, shuffling our feet though the leaves and staring into each other's eyes, surrounded by the beauty of nature and bright, festive foliage. A time for curling up in front of our new fireplace at our new house and appreciating the little things in life.

And sometimes you realize that it's the little things that matter most.


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