An article in today's paper (originally from the London Telegraph) asks "Can summer make you sad?"

Hmmm. Well, I guess any season you don't like much can make you sad. Isn't it enough that we already have Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter months, spring fever in the spring, and... what is it we get in fall - dread of returning to routines and punching a time clock?

Anyway, the article seems to attribute summerphobia (and my less-than-helpful spell-checker seems to have a phobia of the word itself) to a fear of abandonment (when friends head off on vacation), a lack of structure - activities shut down for the summer - and a general need to be busy.

I have to say that the things I dislike about summer are almost the opposite to what this article describes. As a retired person, I relish the fact that my time is essentially my own. I generally prefer to do things when not everyone else is doing them. I'm a bit of a loner and don't cope well with crowds. I have a number of personal projects I'd like to get down to when I have a few uninterrupted hours - or better yet a day or two or three - on end. Some of these are things I'd like to do (in some cases to get them done, in other cases for the pure joy of it) at home; others involve exploring other places (both nearby and more far-flung) on my own. No expectation that I'll be home by a certain time for lunch or whatever.

And yet, I don't live alone. I'm not even sure if I would want to at this stage - certainly I'm aware that those who live alone can be more vulnerable as they get older. I'm not a total hermit - I do like to get out and see friends and family sometimes. But I value opportunities for solitude too.

Virginia Woolf wrote eloquently about a room of one's own. Maybe I just need a woman-cave. I like to think things through and daydream a bit. I like having the luxury of not needing to multitask but rather to just focus on one thing. But unfortunately that's not really the way of the world these days. Murray McLauchlan asked "Where's those quiet places to come home to?" Or, for that matter, to go out to?
... but it was a beautiful, fall-like day for the Dyke March last Saturday. I found it a congenial gathering, just the right size (unlike the Pride March, which seems larger, more commercial - though I guess in some ways it's a GOOD thing that it's become so mainstream during my lifetime!) Anyway, I liked the friendliness, the intergenerational aspect, the consensual and refreshingly egoless style of the Dyke March. In flavour, it was very reminiscent of the consciousness-raising group I used to go to at the Ottawa Women's Centre during the mid-1970s. The fact that my daughter was performing afterwards in Minto Park and that both grandchildren were along for the ride didn't hurt either!

Fall itself has a rather different rhythm to it for me these days. Back when I was in elementary school, of course, it meant new clothes, new school supplies, a new teacher and group of classmates and often a new school too - although we lived in the same house throughout my school career, they were forever changing school boundaries as one or another school became severely overcrowded and new schools were built. And let me tell you, "overcrowding" had a very different meaning in my young day! I just have to laugh when parents these days complain that their kids' school is overcrowded because their kid is in a class with 25 or 30 other kids - when I was little, that would have been a SMALL class! My kindergarten class had over sixty kids in it (though mind you, there were two teachers). In subsequent grades, classes of 40 to 45 (with only one teacher) were the norm, and a teacher counted herself lucky if she had under 35 kids in her class - even if it was one of those now-dreaded split grades.

When I headed off to university in 1971, university classes didn't get underway until somewhere in mid-September (usually between the 15th and 20th of the month as I recall) and for many students, that meant an extra couple of weeks that they could work and earn money for the next year's tuition - though even allowing for inflation, postsecondary education was not nearly as expensive nor as ubiquitous as it is today. Nowadays, college and university students generally head off to classes no later than the day after Labour Day - which must make life extremely hectic for families who have children (including adult children) at various educational levels!

Once I had completed university, the rhythm of the seasons changed for me again, although there was still that feeling of autumnal renewal during my working life,
even pre-children, as folks came back from holidays and new projects and activities began.

Now that I'm retired, I'm almost finding summers to be busier than the fall, what with all the festivals going on in town - Music & Beyond, Chamberfest and next week, the Folk Festival (which used to be held in August).

Plus ca change...

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