Monday, October 21, 2013


Now that the weather is turning colder, many people are becoming wistful for summer. They bemoan the loss of heat and humidity. They look out of their windows into an October sky and comment on the arrival of winter. People look to coop themselves up, put on layers and wait out the upcoming weeks until spring.

Not me.

I love all the seasons, but I now have a special spot in my heart for autumn. When I was working, autumn was an enemy: it signalled the return of the work year and the loss of complete freedom that a summer brought to a teacher. Oh well ... that was then, this is now.

I have had the opportunity, between the sighs and curses of friends and family, to recount what I have been able to do this autumn. I've been to Algonquin Park twice, once to kayak on a quiet and serene lake and river and behold a lovely waterfall by myself. The other time to Algonquin was with my wife and my mom to take in the absolutely spectacluar display of colour in the hardwood forests.

I have also been boating with a couple of good friends on Lake Couchiching. Again, the lake was completely deserted. The fish weren't biting, but it didn't matter. The weather was cool, but we were dressed for it. We had good conversation, good companionship, and time slowed down to a nice rhythmn as the breezes ruffled the waves.

I've seen some good football, both live and on TV. This is the time for "football weather", and the cool, sunny days allowed for some incredible displays of athletic prowess. In fact, October is a sports fan's paradise. Football, both Canadian and American, professional and college, is in full swing. Baseball is in its post-season. Hockey is starting up, with all the promise of early days' success. Golf, tennis, auto sports, horse racing, soccer ... they are all going strong at this time. There is no better time of the year for a sports fan.

We have been able to enjoy our family. We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Newmarket with a traditional turkey dinner. We marvelled at our sister-in-law's talents at an art show in Toronto. We celebrated a truly fun and unique wedding of my second cousin and caught up on all the family accomplishments.

Lou and I took a long and enjoyable road trip through the Canadian and American mid west. Technically, the trip took place in summer, but I count it part of the autumn since much of it was in September. We saw some wonderful things, enjoyed the pleasures of great cities like Winnipeg and Chicago and ran into some good friends.

Autumn always brings back wistful memories for me. Many years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually claim his life, we went through a terrible time as we watched him grow weaker and sicker. And yet, I remember that the weather that autumn was wonderful, and the colours absolutely fantastic. I tried to spend as much time with my dad as I could. I went home every weekend and sat with him in the back garden talking and enjoying the sunshine. Even though I knew he was slipping away from us, I think of those last days and weeks as the "golden days." We had many wonderful talks which I will carry with me all the days of my life. My dad finally grew desperately sick and died in the winter, so, for me, that last autumn was truly "golden."

When I take long walks along the trails here in Newmarket, I begin to think of my own life. I guess it's true to say that I have now entered the autumn of my own life. I like to think of myself as still youthful in my outlook: I am still in pretty good shape: I enjoy all the pleasures and aspects of life. Yes, I still think I'll live forever and never change. Until I look in the mirror. The signs are unmistakeable. Just as the weather grows cooler, the sun's light grows paler, and the trees' colours more remarkable, I see someone changing into something other than young. I'm not angry or depressed by this: it's natural. And, just as though the best pleasures of the year are in autumn, I truly believe that the next few years will be incredible for me. I have health, a wonderful wife, a loving family, truly good friends and , well, a little money to do some things. Winter is a long way off yet.

It really has been a great autumn. The weather has been unusually mild, the colours fantastic and the family and friends so warm and precious. So what if it rains a little, or the leaves are starting to fall, or the temperature is in single digits now?  It's truly great to be alive !! 

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