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Happy New Year!

September 1, 2013

free_fall_leaves_shutterstock_61538884_web[1]So how are you celebrating the start of the New Year? Are you partying–brats and burgers on the grill, potao salad, cold beer from an endless supply in the cooler–or maybe spending the day in quiet contemplation, mapping your goals for the year ahead?

It’s Sept. 1, I know. But that’s always been the start of the New Year for me. Autumn, when the leaves and flowers have begun to die, when all the crops have been harvested, when the days grow darker and the temperatures cooler, the playgrounds and street are empty of children because their days are spent in school–that’s my season of rebirth. i was born in late October; perhaps that my reason for feeling that I’m coming alive again.

The crisp evenings rejuvenate me, unlike the hot summer days that make me tired. Football, my favorite sport, is played again. Apples are ready to be picked. My favorite lunch on an autumn afternoon is apple and cheese and crackers with a couple of glasses of good wine. After lunch, as long as the weather is still mild, I sit on my back porch and listen to a football game, the Huskies of Northern illinois University, my alma mater, and smoke a cigar.

I can’t do that on January 1, the start of the real New Year. For years I went to the obligatory New Year’s Eve party, had drinks, ate chips and dips and pretzels, drank champagne at exactly midnight with everyone else.

I was always bored. I couldn’t wait to get home. The next day would bring the same thing, almost every year in the Midwest: more snow, temperatures below freezing. And I could count on that for the next two months: the season of the dead. People outside, sure, but hurrying to get back home where it was warm. Nothing to do outside, no reason to be there unless you had business to conclude.

(In my novel “The Champagne Ladies” I gave my feelings to Claudine Dabec, who plans a party to welcome in the New Year. Of course, the party never happens).

On late Sunday afternoons in October I take walks around my neighborhood and watch the kids rake leaves. They rake them into heaps and take turns jumping into them, just as I and my friends did when we were ten years old. Maybe autumn is a season of nostalgia. I don’t know. But I’d love to jump into a pile of leaves again.


From → Verbiage

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