My smart watch showed “snow showers in Danforth.” It is the time of year when Greg and Katie scramble to open the storage garage and sort out where all the “stuff” accumulated over the summer and summers before will be stacked away for the next year’s adventures. This year not only do we need a bed for the canoe and my old power boat, but I recently shipped up to camp my complete library of books accumulated since the mid-1970s. Greg is to build, over the winter, a new set of shelves to house my beloved, mostly-read books in my man cave-office-studio. I always feel comforted surrounded by books, as I am by the small fireplace in the studio. Next spring, I will organize the books, and figure out where my fly-tying apparatus goes, as well as my painting easel and other assorted tchotchkes. But now things are winding down. The closing up of camp in the fall coincides with my birthday in October and is always a time of reflection for me.
A recent article in the New York Times, “Fall Can Be a Season for Building Resilience” by Erick Vance, describes the melancholy one feels at the loss of sunlight and greenery at the end of summer. Yet those who “lean in” to the discomfort can gain from it, as it enables them to build up a tolerance to other fears and uncertainties in life. “Mindfulness” is another way to simply observe and accept life as it is rather than thinking about change as a source of distress. Useful advice, as this autumn is a bit scarier than most given what is happening in the world: important mid-term elections at a time when our democratic system is at risk, an escalating war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear confrontation, plus the economic turmoil of inflation—and we cannot forget about the damage caused by Hurricane Ian on the west coast of Florida. It is getting harder for me to read and accept the front-page news. I know I must keep abreast of what is happening in the world, but it is becoming burdensome. I find the obituaries and wedding announcements more enjoyable than the current events being reported. Personally, I am fortunate to be healthy, to have a life filled with adventure, love and career success. Yet there is an unsettling feeling of uncontrollable events on the horizon. My form of mindfulness is to delve into a good book to take me to another place. Mysteries, biography, classics, as well as a new project—research on a historical novel I plan to write about my father’s escape from Ukraine during the First World War in 1918, and his journey across Europe to Argentina and eventually to upstate New York. Now there was someone with resilience.
Vance also talks about autumn as a time of year for “harvesting” memories, looking back and collecting the moments, good and bad, without judgment: “Keep the thorn to keep the rose.” At my age, I have plenty of thorns, but even more roses, for which I am grateful. The months ahead will be filled with various adventures and other ways to cope with the blues the changing seasons can bring, and of course my professional work is always a constant source of fresh challenges and excitement. And camp opening in May is only eight months away. In the meantime, stay warm, Katie and Greg.