“To everything, there is a season” — the beginning of the well-known biblical verse most often invoked to describe life passages like birth and death. While I appreciate the larger meaning of the phrase, these days it reminds me of the literal change of seasons. I watch the daily sunrise appear later and later with trepidation, knowing there is no way to stay this seasonal passage. It is, in fact, the end of summer, even if I’m struggling to accept the finality of it all.
Last Thursday was the first day of meteorological fall, but officially summer ends with the autumnal equinox, Sept. 22. But most Americans mark today, Labor Day, the unofficial last day of the season. I’m all in with the season delayers basking in every sliver of sunshine and reveling in the simple joys of a summer breeze. Maybe I appreciated summer even more than usual this year because it felt closer to the carefree summers before the Covid pandemic limited how and where we could move around. Yet, I couldn’t wholly embrace the season because of the ongoing specter of the disease which continues to spread despite our best pharmaceutical efforts. On the other hand, the availability of targeted drugs and frequent at-home testing allowed me to have peace of mind for a gathering of friends and acquaintances. An hours-long afternoon of conversation and laughter on a favorite screened-in porch under the lazy turning of a ceiling fan. That’s my idea of a summer day well spent.
I’ve been told by many of my New England friends that the reason to live in this part of the country is because of the change of seasons. They look forward to it. But evidence suggests a lot of us have mixed emotions about the change of seasons, especially about the change from summer to fall. I don’t mind admitting it drags me down. And it apparently also has a similar impact on the author of the New York Times’ Well newsletter. In a recent column called “How to Cope with Fall Anxiety,” Melinda Wenner Moyer sought advice from psychologists about how to deal with her fall anxiety. Atlanta-based psychologist Joy Harden Bradford suggested self-kindness accompanied by an out-loud acknowledgment of your feelings, like, “OK, this is typically a difficult time of the year for me. … I’m going to do the best that I can.”
My fall dread is not so much about the oncoming of fall itself, as it is about fall as the precursor to winter. Winter’s darkness is the worst for me, and I’m not fond of the cold, ice, and snow that comes with it. That darkness is especially tough for people who suffer from a kind of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
I deeply resent how Dunkin’ and Starbucks have pushed fall even earlier this year. In August, both began serving pumpkin spice specialties while 90-degree temperatures soared. I refuse to recognize this marketing madness. On this final, final day of summer, I’ll mourn the last moments of my favorite season by looking forward — counting down to summer 2023.
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Callie Crossley hosts Under the Radar with Callie Crossley and shares radio essays each Monday on GBH’s Morning Edition. She hosts Basic Black, which focuses on current events impacting communities of color and appears weekly on Beat the Press, examining local and national media coverage.
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