I have always dreaded fall, right from the earliest parts of childhood that I can remember.
In spite of the intense beauty that I see all around me-- the brilliant colours of the changing leaves, the sharper angle of the light in the early evenings, the ducks and geese streaking noisily across the sky, pointing their beaks firmly south-- I carry a dull ache in my stomach every waking minute of my day.
I guess it stems back to childhood, and the sheer dread I felt, going back to school. Then, it was the overwhelming anxiety of scrambling through university. Now, I'm a TEACHER, for crying out loud, and I feel as guilty about trapping little people indoors all day after a summer of running wild and free, as I feel about sending my own babies to their new classrooms and into the care of strangers.
I know, I know. I could deal with this-- SHOULD probably try to deal with this-- by changing my attitude. Cognitive behavioural therapy, and all that.
It's the darkening of light. It's the whiff of freshly sharpened pencils and the coarse stiffness of brand new jeans. It's the alarm clocks, the sandwich meat, the chrysanthemums instead of roses.
It's the emptiness I feel when my children sprint from my arms and into the school playground. It's the distance-- not just physical, but emotional distance-- between my girls and me at this time of year. I know it's necessary-- they're growing up, and we all need to live our own little lives.
But it takes time for me to get used to it all.
Every, single year.