Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fall brings feelings of...

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.

26 comments:

Herb Urban said...

I have always been partial to spring and fall. Maybe it suits my personality, shunning extremes for more temperate climates. I suppose it depends on your environment.

I can see sadness in watching the sun set on long summer days and nights, ushering in an unwelcome chill in the air.

I never knew day light savings time was a political football. Please elaborate.

Marja said...

I can completely relate to this. Luckily I moved to New Zealand were the winters are shorter although the houses are colder. Now it is spring I feel revived

Jo said...

So interesting....heat doesn't really do it for me. When I lived in Hong Kong for five years I craved autumn, winter and spring. A well written post, though, even if I don't agree with the sentiment LOL!

Nancy said...

You captured my, and probably many others love/hate relationship with fall and what it is the entryway to.

I'm glad you posted this, I am clueless as to the seasons in Israel.

Fall for me, begins tanning beds, not for color, but for light therapy. Like you said, the darkness setting in to early in the day, and cold damp evenings, for me can be a big drag.

paisley said...

i have never been one to welcome the fall.. and i too don't like the whole idea of "daylight savings time" but this year for some odd reason i feel a bit renewed....

Becca said...

While I don't particularly like hot weather, I do appreciate that sense of lassitude you're talking about - that it's ok to spend long days in "ease and joy."

I love fall, but there is a poignant sadness to it.

Great post - I hope you can find some fall pleasures to make up for the loss of summer. And yes, I would date having darkness come so early already!

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

It's interesting. I enjoy the dark but I know many suffer in this time. I hope you find renewal is something.

Rose

xo

Summer said...

I could have written this!

gautami tripathy said...

I simply do not like the summer. If you lived in Delhi, you would hate it too. It saps my strength and I am too tired to do anything despite having two months summer holidays.

Spring and autumn are two seasons I like. Transition period which fuse me with energy.

One thinking post, thanks!

J. Lynne said...

You inspired me to write my own post on the subject.

Melissa Garrett said...

As much as I love fall, spring is definitely my time of renewal, too. Spring is when I am most productive. I am beginning to feel like a sloth - the mornings are darker, the days are shorter. By Thursday, fall weather will finally make a much-anticipated appearance. And all I'll feel like doing is sleeping. Not great for someone working from home ;-)

Pieces of Me said...

Funny.. I felt the same way when I was living on the other side of the world and for some reason the rejuvenating feeling came back. I guess it goes to show that the issue of rejuvenation can be both individual and climate orientation - depending on where you are in the world and what memories they hold for you, of course.

tumblewords said...

Oh, Robin! You've said my thoughts. To me autumn is the dying time reaching inside with gray. Each year, I vow to be different, to love cold and gray, but each year... Well-written post!

Pen and the Sword said...

I have always had fond thoughts of Fall, but the darker side to the season hasn't really crossed my mind until now. Not that this post brought me down at all! Don't get me wrong. You just made me think.

Here in Minnesota, USA Fall brings on an ever vibrant array of colors on the leaves of the trees and the anticipation of family time with the impending holidays. My children are not yet school-aged, so I am sure I will be right there with you in your thoughts in years to come.

I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you :o)

Mary Timme said...

I used to feel exactly as you describe, but I've learned that life and death are in the same hand, on the same contiuium, and fall is just a time of nature to revel in. I didn't used to think that either, so I feel a kinship with what you've said.

Robin said...

It's funny, winter in Israel can be a beautiful, colorful time as the rains bring new life to the land, and truly on a warm sunny day there is nothing lovelier, but still the darkness holds such power.

Herb, the early end to daylight savings time is so that the religious (particularly the ultra-orthodox, who regularly extort concessions out of politicians who need to hold fragile coalition governments together) get to get up one hour later for the Slichot prayers they say at dawn between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. A few days of increased convenience, in exchange for millions and millions of dollars in increased energy costs and increased traffic accidents with that extra hour of darkness starting a month early, not to mention the theft of the end of summer. Israel (obviously) doesn't have separation of church and state, and our system of coalition government gives abnormally and inappropriately large amounts of power to small swing parties which represent only small fractions of the population. (This is a real hot button of mine but I'll try to stop ranting now.)

Christine said...

Very interesting.
From living in CA, my time of year was definetly Summer time, for the long lazy days at the beach and the BBQs.
Now with the oppresing heat in the Summertime here in Arizona, honestly the winters are my favorite time of year. I love the Spring and Fall, but the winters here are so mild and almost dream like 85F for the better part of Winter. If I want snow, I head up North to the mountains.

Lea said...

Yes... fall is about the stripping down of everything. For me too, it is the place where renewal is only but a dream... well said Robin...

This Eclectic Life said...

Fall isn't a time of "renewal" for me either, Robin. It's a time of settling in, a time of preparing for the winter to come. Good post, and as always you've found something to peak my interest with the Writer's Island!

Herb Urban said...

I thought the theocratic fringe in the states exhorted too much power. Thanks for the explanation. Didn't mean to poke at a hot button.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Funny, I've never thought of fall in terms of 'renewal'---the leaves dying and falling from the trees, the early darkness, the cooling temperatures---these things feel more like 'endings' than beginnings. But, I do love the colors, the break from the heat, the smells in the air. The early night? That, I could do without.

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

My inner philosopher challenges you on this! We need contrast, we crave it.
Being in Israel, you say you have no pumpkins, no Halloween, no Thanksgiving. This would leave me feeling robbed too, I have to admit.
I have been celebrating since Oct 1st, and will until November 1st. Please stop by anytime you want a Halloween fix. In North America, it is almost as big as Christmas now. Silly, but such fun who could resist.
I wish I could change your mind about Fall. But maybe if I walked a mile in your shoes, I'd get it.
Thinking of you,
Blue
xo

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

You know, the more I think about it, you should feel robbed. Screw Fall, how ridiculous that daylight savings crap. It wreaks havoc on people's mental state, the early darkness.
I am sorry if I was slow to compute your message.
Sending you light! Tons and tons of it,
Blue
xo

Robin said...

Thank you Blue, your light will be a treasure on a dark evening.

And Herb, buttons are there for the pushing ;-).

UL said...

Robin, that was a thought provoking post. I love the fall, it allows me to prepare for the winter ahead, but these days even that's denied it seems, summer just merges into winter these days.

sister AE said...

Hi, Robin.
I like the change of seasons but summer and winter are my favorites and spring (except for my allergies) comes in 3rd.

Fall brings memories of far, far too many leaves to be raked when I was a kid, along with the starting up of a lot of obligations - the busiest month of the whole year at work and the loss of my Monday nights to my choir rehearsals.

If it weren't for apples and "sweater weather" I might not find anything redeemable in the fall months here.