I was sitting outside in the sunshine on a break today, and when I began writing this entry in my head without even trying, I knew it was time to return to blogging business. It also made me realize just how much I needed that short break. I had become like a saturated sponge with no room for anything more. Some of the overflow has drained away now, leaving me a bit more absorbent. But, lest this begins to sound like a paper towel commercial, I'll move on...
September is my favorite month of the year
September is change: nature morphing in its gentlest manner. The fleeting sunlight, delicately shifted in angle from its full command of the mid-summer sky, shimmers through rustling leaves and creates kaleidoscope patterns on the sidewalks. Cool breezes and crisp, dewey mornings awaken my skin and leave me almost gleeful, like excitement in response to an unexpected promise. How did you used to feel when your parents exclaimed that they were taking you to the fair the coming weekend? Yeah, just like that! September urges visions of poetry and Impressionist watercolors, but it also brings to mind riotus rides on carnival merry-go-rounds. Like the rich musical tapestry of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony come to life, September is peaceful and unpretentious, but also unpredictable and exhilarating--all at the same time.
September is full of expectations
This month will forever bring memories of new boxes of crayons, newly purchased and too-tight shoes, and inescapable butterflies in the stomach--a repeated reaction to any new school year. As a very shy child, I never started a school year without being both excited and terrified. Once I had swum the streams and gullies of the first few days, I settled into a productive daze. But, those first hours were always harder than they should have been.
September brings in the new year
...and not January, as the calendar dictates. For one thing, it is the month of my birthday, and I am in a sense, "renewed." For another, my life seems to have always been rooted in academia - as a student for many years, and then as staff at a university for many more. I must also attribute a cultural memory beyond my personal experience. During many Septembers far into the past, my farming ancestors must have enjoyed the lengthening shadows of late summer evenings all the more for having harvested the fruits of their labors, their cupboards lined with rows of gem-colored jars of preserves. By September, they knew whether they could face another winter season with confidence.
September is the calm before the storm
It is true with the weather, and it is especially true here at the university. The halls and pathways of learning are as quiet as they get right now. Sculpted gargoyles blankly stare down from lofty cornices, as if in boredom. Most of the students and faculty are away until Fall quarter, and there are relatively few starry-eyed visitors, recovering staff, and diehard grad students roaming about. The walk to the HUB (Husky Union Building) for coffee is downright pleasant. There are no masses of bodies to weave around, no elbows to avoid, no excessive noise, and no frisbie weapons flying across manicured lawns. There is only 70-degree sunshine (perfect, according to my Bay Area-born sensibilities).
While sitting alongside the entrance steps to the HUB with a coffee, forcing myself to stay still and enjoy the moment, I found myself feeling lonely, even in that splendid sunshine. I suppose it could have something to do with the relative quiet of campus, interrupted only now and again by a cacophony of crow or seagull "song." Perhaps it is also a bit too quiet in the library (if that is possible), with half the staff on leave and one person recently retired. But, for the most part, it was the company of family that I craved, or a good conversation with someone also engaged in family history pursuits. And so, what more perfect time to start blogging again - in September at the start of my year, on the precipice of change--with the promise of things to come beckoning like the words of a carnival hawker?
September: a time for reflection, renewal, reinvention...
A time to blog about family history!
A quiet morning on the University of Washington campus, 9/4/08