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  • Writer's pictureDana Webster

Summer Slides Into Fall

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Despite or perhaps because of the recent heatwave here in Southwestern Ontario, I am actively anticipating the coming of Fall, my favourite season. I've had enough of extroverted Summer where, it seems, we feel compelled to DO ALL THE THINGS!! in the few short months of decent weather we have. I get that if you have small children, summer is probably the easiest season in which to parent. At the very least, you can send them outside to play without the pain of dressing them in a thousand waterproof layers of snow gear. Shorts and t-shirt, go!

The only aspect of summer that I truly love is the foliage, the gardens, the baby critters. But, mostly, it's too darn hot to do anything past 9:00 am and too buggy to be outdoors in the evenings. Okay, wait, I do love the sunsets, though.

Photo courtesy of Paul Webster

A couple of weeks ago Paul and I were on our daily hike at Island Lake. Minding my own business, I suddenly felt a stabbing pain in my butt cheek. And then another. And then two more on my elbow. It hurt like f***. And I panicked. It felt like I was being attacked by an unseen nefarious force of nature. I guess it was a wasp or a hornet but I don't know for sure because I never saw the bugger.

When random things like this happen to me, it gives me pause. Is there some meaning to it? Something I should be paying attention to? Alas, no, I concluded. It was just a painful reminder that Mother Nature has all the power and she can basically just do whatever she wants. And these days, boy, is she on fire!

One of the things I love about Fall is the decrease in all the insects and especially spiders, my nemesis species. I really, really hate those things. Honestly, there is nothing creepier than immersing oneself in the healing and placid properties of nature only to walk, face first, into a web that is so huge it spans the spaces between tree trunks. That just sends shivers down my spine. I have taken to using a spider stick (any long, lightweight branch I find which I wave frantically about me as though I am a Priest conferring blessings or, if I'm with Paul, Paul) whenever I walk in the woods.

I'm not sure I can trace my arachnophobia back to one specific incident or trauma. However, I do recall dock spiders at summer camp. They would come floating to the surface whenever the dock dipped into the water under foot. That particular species belongs in the Peruvian rainforest with their human-hand sized cousins; not in pokey ol' Ontario.

The other thing I like about Fall is the new beginnings and the fresh internal energy they bring with them. Summer is languorous (despite the manic activity) and without rhythm. The long, hot, amorphous days and nights simply fall away into an endless pause, a suspension of time and routine. For me, it's like being on vacation a couple of days too many. One can only take so many hours of meaningless hedonism. At some point, we have to get back to "doing". Don't we?

At my age, bedtime comes early. Eight o'clock is the preferred hour for me to hop into bed with a book (currently reading book 8 of the Lane Winslow series by Iona Whishaw and Steven Pressfield's The War of Art) and slowly wind down for a night of sleep (which is one of most favourite activities). But when the sun doesn't set for another 90 minutes, it feels ... wasteful to be calling it a day already. In Fall and especially Winter, I can get into my jammies and bed earlier and earlier, guilt-free. My day starts to wind down at 4:00 pm and I mark its official demise at 5:00 pm with my beloved Glenlivet on the rocks.

I've spent a lifetime rebelling against productivity. I've never been comfortable having a million things to think about and/or do. I think the drive to be busy, busy, busy is one of humanities worst machinations, particularly when its focus is on economics, another one of our follies. I know it's a really, really long time ago but we used to spend our days hunting and gathering. Simple survival. Take what you need, leave the rest for someone else. But then someone got greedy and started to hoard and fence-in their own foodstuffs; thereby, creating the it's-all-about-me-having-more principal of supply and demand. Ack!

My resentment toward the Busy Principal is being made to feel lazy. The fact is the world needs us slowpokes. We are the deep thinkers, the philosophers, the creatives. We tend to be introverts which means our energy stores for doing, doing, doing deplete at a far more rapid rate than the extroverted. We spend time alone in non-stimulating environments in order to reboot.

Which is why, circling back, I love Fall so much. It is the time of energy restoration. It also asks very little of me in terms of productivity. The days grow shorter which means quiet time is longer. And then in Winter everything literally goes to sleep. Come to think of it, winter should probably be my favourite season except that I am not partial to the freezing cold. By the time Spring rolls around, I am ready like Sleeping Beauty, to be awoken again from a very restful sleep, a few months of extra bedrest, crackling fires, hot chocolate, wool blankets and books.

Bring on the hibernation!

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