Writings about renewal have been popping up all over the internet for a few weeks now, culminating in this week's Writers Island prompt. I see them, I read them, I enjoy them, and then I wonder why they don't speak to me, not on a personal, feel it in my gut level. Everyone else seems to be feeling rejuvenated, enervated after the summer's heat, ready to leap forward into new projects and new passions.
That doesn't happen to me.
I don't feel renewed in the fall, I feel robbed. Robbed of summer's ease and joy, it's long, sunny days that just cry out for barbecues and picnics at the beach and lazy days with friends. Yes, by August it's pretty much too hot to actually do anything outside other than sit by the pool or beach, but I think that's why I love it so - because I don't have to do anything other than sit by the pool or beach, feeling the cool water washing over me and watching my children play.
With fall comes darkness, and much too early. Pandering to ultra-religious political coercion (don't ask, it's much too complicated and not worth the effort) means that daylight savings time ends very early here in Israel, often in late September, long before the temperatures have cooled and people (me) are ready to start thinking about winter. Each year, when I'm still trying to adjust to the start of the school year and with its endless rounds of obligations, after-school activities, pick-ups, drop-offs, and homework to be completed, clinging desperately to these final weeks of summer's warmth, wanting to sneak in just a few more afternoons at the pool or lazy evenings picnicking at the playground, the world goes dark. Suddenly, the light is beginning to fade by 5:30, by 6 it's completely black. Gone are those long lazy evenings, replaced instead with a mad dash to squeeze in something, anything, before it gets dark.
I feel the darkness as an oppressive weight on my shoulders, tying me down. There are no beautiful fall colors to see, there is no crispness to the air, no Halloween, no pumpkins, no Thanksgiving other than the one we've created ourselves. Just a long dark period, soon to be accompanied by rains, and then by cold too. Cold is relative though. It isn't the bitter cold of the American north, keeping you safely indoors or else sending you out to ski, instead it's a wet, damp cold, with wind that races right into your bones. It's been 13 years since I lived in a tiny drafty rental apartment with just two space heaters to keep me warm (during the worst winter Israel had had in over 100 years), but the trauma has entrenched itself firmly in my gut, leaving me dreading the coming of the winter each year with its cold rainy darkness. There are still many beautifully sunny days when it's possible to pass a pleasant afternoon at an outdoor cafe or go for a walk in the park, even in January, but to me there is always the feeling that the darkness is just around the corner, waiting for its chance to return.
Spring is my time of renewal. The days lengthen, the temperatures begin to rise and with them my spirits; sleeves shorten and then disappear altogether, pants are replaced with flowing dresses, leaving me feeling freer and easier than I have in months, ready to rush out and grab the world by its tail.
No, fall is not about renewal for me. About hearty soups and chilis and stews, yes. About fleece ponchos and scarves, yes. About curling up under a blanket and not wanting to move, yes. About movies and bowls of popcorn and snuggling on the couch, yes. A time of huddling close, of looking inward. But not renewal.