Tag Archives: summer

Fall On The Wind, A Seasonal Teaser

You’ll have to forgive me for the pomp and the abundance of adjectives. I’ve been watching a little Orson Welles biopic and feeling a bit verbose.

The recent heat broke before dawn and the temperature fell a few degrees. Skies are cast in grey with a wind carrying a ominous reminder of the north Pacific chill we’ll be battered with for months once the season ends proper.

Its almost-autumnal whispers feel treasonous after the hot summery days we’ve enjoyed of late, given far too few for the first many weeks of the season.

Labour day looms, and with it an all-too-soon sense of Vancouver’s unsummer coming to a close.

***

Fraser lookout, Vancouver, by moi.

The forecast says more sunshine is to come, but many today woke with that “great northern land” sense of the oppression we’ll soon be under.

I worked on a documentary the other day, on the job, and it was about a Danish designer, and they spoke of the Danes and how they’re two different people — moody and oppressive in the winter, and carefree and awesome in the summer. I realized then it’s not just Vancouver that’s schizophrenic with the seasons, but rather most of the northern world.

So this is why I’m resisting writing as much as possible right now. Because life, and this season, are short.

This spring was one of the most disappointing I’ve ever experienced in Vancouver, and summer never appeared until August. I was on the verge of switching from being Seasonally Affected to becoming Permanently Defected, but then summer arrived. This is only the second iffy day since the end of July.

In my cold fingers and shivering bare legs, I sense the long, daunting season that may be ahead. Last year’s summer wasn’t great either, making for an insufferable wait for this past month’s fantastic weather.

The rise of Vancouver’s delayed summer was coupled with the end of my own season of discontent as well. My back is slowly getting more livable. I’ve had some really nice bike rides lately, and I’m beginning to feel there’s hope for recovery to a place where I can cycle as much as I like and have the lifestyle I long for. Not there yet, but a great ride with a couple days off to recuperate is an okay balance for me.

With present reprieve from both Vancouver’s weather and back woes, I’m trying to just enjoy the moment, embrace the season, and remember every bit of daylight I can for when those 18-hours-of-darkness-days return, where the laughable “daylight” is often under mottled moody Pacific skies or rain-forest deluge.

***

This winter, I’ll do the writing I’m eager to do. I’ll continue working a little less “at the job” despite not needing so much rehab time for the back, and I will write a lot.

Right now, there’s no guilt for taking the time to remember other things I love about life, because I had felt so little passion for anything for quite a few months there. Injuries are as oppressive as heavy weather storm fronts when it comes to living life the way you would like. Passion tends to be a good thing for writers. To be devoid of it, well, that’s a crime.

To be freeing myself of feeling trapped is a sensational page to turn.

Lately, I’ve been cooking great food, rediscovering my bike, enjoying the sunshine, lazing around with movies when I’m not doing the first three things, and that’s about it. I won’t have vacation time this year, so I’m doing the best to plant a little vacation fakery around my work weeks of late, and I’ve fooled myself quite handily at it, too. I haven’t had the money to be social, after all the expensive rehab since March, and cock-ups with the medical claims, so having at-home-and-in-the-hood staycationing has been well-timed and fantastic for the soul.

***

The end of summer has always been a time of sadness and apprehension for me, but this year it’s not. I’m not sure what the difference is. I’m normally categorically despondent at the thought of an onslaught of Vancouver’s wet, grey winter. With only a month of real summer, you’d think I’d be even more so this year, but I’m not. I guess it’s because I have plans and goals in mind already for the grey heavy months to come.

I’m hoping seasonal sunshine and warmth continues until my September-end birthday, and I will continue steadfastly ignoring the literary arts and any goals until then.

***

It’s strange. I’ve never been this at peace with what I’ve been denied because of injuries before. I have this incredible gratitude for the little things I get to go and do of late, especially when the day ends and I’m stiff and sore but not in pain or worried about what the next day will bring.

I got to watch baseball 10 days ago. That was wonderful. I got to cycle in Stanley Park on Friday, and by the river the week before. Both wonderful things. Tomorrow, I have a cycling adventure planned with a friend, and I’m a little nervous but more excited. It feels great to not have the apprehension I’ve had. On Monday, I get to see a concert — a concert by the same band I was absolutely heart-broken to cancel seeing in May because my back injury was becoming worse instead of better.

Then a week or so later they announced a Labour Day return to Vancouver. My heart sang. The goal was to have my back healed by the gig. Well, it won’t be healed, but it’ll be good enough that I can go and bounce around… a little. And that’s awesome.

***

I’ve said before that my year of unemployment was a gift because it reminded me of simpler food, putting heart into cooking, and really learning how little one needs in life… and that I became aware I had most of what I needed.

I’ve believed for a while that my back injury was teaching me a few things. Gratitude for just being able to get around and have personal freedoms is just one of the lessons. The rest are for me to chew on a while longer.

***

It’s a bitter-sweet autumn-is-somewhere-out-there morning, and, as it turns out, that’s just fine with me.

Anticipating Autumn

Fall has landed.

It’s the first night I’ve had to close my windows all but a crack. Soon I expect the radiator will be turned on and will spend the next several weeks climbing in temperatures as the climate closes in on winter.

Photo by me, on Vancouver's Burrard Inlet, under the Cambie bridge, I think?

It’s the first day I’ve been funny in the morning in a few weeks. I’ve got my mojo rising and my body’s starting to feel like I’m in control of it again. Pneumonia has been a shitty ride, but my prescription finishes today, and I’m turning some good corners.

Good thing, too. Gettin’ busy — after all, a week from today, I’ll hit the ripe old age of 37.

September has been a long, hard month. Every year I seem to face some kind of adversity as I head into the autumn. A couple times I’ve cheated death on Labour Day weekend. Once I blew out my back a couple days after my birthday. Yeah, it’s always been a rocky time for me, one that suggests much change is ahead for me.

This year’s no different when you get down to the basics: Change is necessary, positives abound, opportunity knocks, et cetera.

But I suppose that’s autumn for most of us.

I think we all go a little off-track in the summer. From the time of childhood on, summer suggests two months of free-for-alls — a time when hedonism makes sense to just about everyone, days when abdicating your responsibilities are too tantalizing to pass up. Nothing like wind in the hair and sand in the toes, as the saying goes.

Then fall rolls around, and like it did when we were kids, it means life is coming back to the working cycle.

Harvest time. For tens of thousands of years, autumn has been a time of preparation and planning, a time to get working in order to ensure survival over the coming cold months of hardship.

Biologically, I think we’re still hardwired there. Summer’s that time when survival’s easier. We don’t even need shelter — sleeping under the stars isn’t just nice, but essential to the human experience.

Winter? Heh, not so much — especially here in the so-called Great White North. (Ironic, of course, since Vancouver, Canada gets far less snow than NYC, or even Vancouver, Washington, but, hey, whatever stereotypes rock your boat, man.)

As the days get shorter, my mind turns to the months ahead, planning and scheming for all I feel I need to accomplish. Thrown into cold, rainy, dreary, windy Wet Coast days, I’ll find myself methodically productive and compulsively accomplished.

Unlike summertime Steff.

It was at this point, three years ago this very week, I reached my self-esteem rock-bottom, had just quit the job making me miserable, returned to a job that allowed me to put myself first, and started on my path toward losing 70 pounds and being able to say I Am Not That Girl Anymore.

The fall has always been a powerful catalyst in my life.

You might think that, coming off a month of back problems and pneumonia, I carry dread and fear about the months that loom… but you’d be woefully mistaken, friend.

I’m stoked. For every step backward I’ve taken this year, there’s been two steps forward. You can choose to focus on the backwards steps, but I’d rather believe it was just practice, and practice makes perfect.

“Big picture” is always more rewarding than a nano-focus. Don’t think about the steps backward this year; think of how much forward you were able to move.

I know the possibility that can come from this bubbling anticipation and dogged desire to capitalize on it. I’ve been there before, I’ve seen what it can do to me. Hell, I know what *I* can do with it.

All this “stuff” in my way right now… it’s just stuff. It’s a bug, a sickness, and it’ll go away. It happens. It’s not “bad luck” or misfortune. It’s just my turn. It’s a reminder of the things I said were important to me — my health, my future, my soul. It’s a reminder of how much I could have controlled more aspects of my life, and an inspiration to do better in the coming months.

Your adversity is what you decide it to be. Make your conclusions carefully.

It’s autumn. A time for things to die and begin their cycle of rebirth. A time to reap what you’ve sown and account for it. Mostly, it’s just a time.

Today, I lament the loss of warmth and long days, the frivolity and fun, the recklessness and hedonism. I mourn that my inner kid’s gonna have a harder time coming out to play for a while.

But I’m truly thrilled to lose the seasonal distractions, gain some focus, and launch future plans for taking over the world.

I’m looking forward to chillier nights, leaves falling, storms that remind me just how fragile our place in the world is, bundling up, excuses for sleeping in, and cradling mugs of hot beverages in frozen hands. I’m longing for the crisp, clean smell, the quieter streets, the oft-patter of rain and splashing of tires, and the fuzzy comfort of wearing warm slippers.

By the year’s end, I’ll have begun growing tired of it all and will dread the next four months, but that’s how the weather cookie crumbles here in the proverbial Great White North.

And, today, none of that matters. Today, summer’s gone, fall is here, and survivalism kicks in — just like it ought to after tens of thousands of years of biological programming.

Happy autumn, everyone. Enjoy everything about it.

And please, for the love of god, don’t put ornamental gourds on your table.

a lament: to beg for a season’s end

a bath, a book, a glass of wine. a fine end to a mostly long day.

the book? elizabeth smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. poetric prose. love tryst. “homewrecking”, said moralistic critics of the time. swirling romance, says i. fitting for a tub.1940s classic lost for a couple of decades, then found again.

she’s describing a stretch of northern californian coastline, up into oregon, that i know well and haven’t seen for seven years. inside, my heart’s breaking a little. i long for it, but i mostly long for summer.

honeysuckle-scented nights. warm salted breezes off the shore. the feeling of sweat on the small of your back. when air’s temperature matches the warmth of your breath. the heat of the sun on as much skin as you can bare. nights warm enough to lie under a tree or lay stargazing on the beach as conversation bleeds into dawn. jacketless at 2am.

i ache for summer. Continue reading