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Fall Melancholy – An Annual Happenstance

September 18, 2007

As a child, I remember it starting somewhere around the third week of August. That grueling feeling that situated itself somewhere between my sternum and small intestine, slowly and steadily eroding the euphoria of being on summer vacation. The feeling was a cross between mild nausea and being short of breath, almost as if someone were stirring the contents of my stomach with a spoon. It would happen only occasionally at first, but then as the passing days crept closer and closer to Labour Day weekend it would happen more frequently, stealing away from the usual elation of summer activities. In a sense, summer ended for me after a month and a half.

It wasn’t difficult for me to spot the signs. The shortening of the days. The way the sun hung lower in the sky after dinner, casting unfamiliar shadows across our backyard. The coolness of the night, and the dew that usually followed the morning after. The shifting of the winds that spoke of an inevitable change coming, a change that I was powerless to prevent. And then of course there were the “back to school” commercials in all their sadism. It all seemed so cruel to me that I had to endure this emotional crash every year, trading hot summer days and fun for months of frigid weather and incessant work. My mother seemed unaffected by all this, and I always wondered how she managed to avoid utter depression in spite of the circumstances. She used to tell me that one day I would learn to appreciate the autumn months, and that there was real beauty in the change of seasons that I was ignorant of. I didn’t buy into it at the time.

After two decades of watching the seasons change, I still get a tinge of that feeling, only now it’s not despair. Granted, school has been taken out of the equation, but the end of summer always makes my heart sink a little lower in my chest. Coming to terms with that doesn’t seem as big a deal to me as it did all those years ago, and I find myself accepting that it is what it is: A yearly transition beyond my control that speaks of the intricacy and wonder of God’s creation. Now that I can truly appreciate.

~B

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