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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Starting Fresh in September by Martha Reed

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I had a glorious youth, running wild with my sisters, cousins, and friends at my grandfather’s rambling cottage on Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Barefoot and tan and pretty much feral, I can still recall the taste of the tart hand-plucked raspberries that grew on long arching canes over the rotting boardwalk in our swamp, and of the Silver Queen and Bread and Butter corn my mother bought by the dozen in brown paper sacks from a local farmer. We team shucked that corn before drenching it in unadulterated Canadian butter and salt. (My family were unapologetic stick of butter rollers.) Schweppe’s tonics and Molson Stock Ale kept us hydrated. Good times, indeed.

August brought the end of summer, and when the leaves on the birch trees at the water’s edge shivered and started to turn it meant that it was time to close the cottage and head south again. I laugh when I imagine the looks on the faces of the US Customs agents who welcomed us back across the Peace Bridge into the States, our Country Squire station wagon crammed with sunburned kids and happy exhausted dogs, suitcases held together by jump ropes, the floating life rafts and squirt guns we bought with our own spending money and by God refused to surrender to anyone, and our pinecone and shiny mica rock collections. Back in those halcyon days the agents just waved us through. I don’t even think our dad slowed down for the gate.

And then it was up to our mom to whip us back into civilized shape, herding us girls into the local beauty boutique for savagely short haircuts with crooked bangs, buying us that one special new outfit from the Sears catalog that we then wore to the first day of school, proud as peacocks, and stuffing our calloused heels and toes back into the one size too big saddle shoes that we would eventually grow into during the school year, our newly bound feet protesting with every step.

Despite our protests and rebellion, there was something magical about September. It felt like a fresh start, a do-over, certainly more of a fresh start than the holiday we celebrated on January 1st. September returned us to school and to classes, offered us the possibility of meeting and making new friends, of growing up just a little bit more and joining interesting groups, challenging sports teams, and special interest clubs. Once you overcame the hurdle of that crippling first day anxiety, it was fun.

So here we stand in September of 2021, and I wonder: if this is my fresh start, what do I want to do with it? I know Book 2 of my NOLA Mystery series needs to be finished, and there are a couple of short story ideas noodling around in my head, but I’m not allowed to start drafting them until the novel manuscript is complete because “after work comes play.” (That’s a Family Rule.) I’ve put my house up for sale and I’ve decided to downsize to a condo because I want to spend my time (and let’s be honest, my increasingly limited energy and focus) more on my writing than on yardwork and spreading mulch. And, with the ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations, it seems like the world is re-opening a bit, so maybe, just maybe it’s time to plan some fresh road trip adventures.

How do you feel about starting fresh in September? Share your thoughts and plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 comments:

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Though my kids are through college, I still think of September as a fresh start, though without the tuition bills. Your Canadian summers must have been idyllic.

Jim Jackson said...

I've always considered autumn the best season of the year. School restarted, I got to play my favorite sport (soccer), and temperatures were temperate (I'd rather add a layer than drown in sweat). And it's the beginning of nature's year as seeds are sown, leaves drop to mulch the ground, buds harden off to prepare for next year's growth. Yep -- everything is starting fresh.

Kait said...

I've always believed that September began the new year. All that hoopla about January 1st was nice, but the real business of living began in September. So, I'm tipping my glass to you in solidarity of new September beginnings.

Martha Reed said...

Good morning, Margaret. Yes, they were. No TV, no cellphones. We made our own fun sometimes involving tippy homemade log rafts and rope swings. It’s a miracle we all survived. LOL

Martha Reed said...

Hi Jim - I agree. There’s some special in the air when things get crisp and it’s time to pull out the sweaters. I don’t have a need for that here in Florida, but next visit up north I’ll need a down filled coat.

Martha Reed said...

Hi Kait - I’ll raise my mug to that idea. September restart it is!

E. B. Davis said...

Usually, September does seem like the new year. But not this year. Maybe it is because we haven't had any crisp weather yet. Maybe I'm still trying to catch up with this year and am running behind. Maybe October will be my new year this year! I hope so. Some rejuvenation would be refreshing.

Shari Randall said...

I'm with you 100% - September is the beginning of the year. Even though my kids left the next long ago, I still celebrate the start of the school year with a new notebook and pencils!

Martha Reed said...

Hi, E.B. Maybe seeing Halloween decorations will help with the restart. My neighbors have jumped the gun and the pumpkins and ghouls are on display already. I love that folks are feeling the need to celebrate a holiday again after 2020.

Martha Reed said...

Hi Shari - I'm probably Big Nerd but I still get a thrill seeing pencil boxes and compasses and I remember my classic red plaid lunch box. I don't think kids even use those anymore. And I was thinking about this the other day: do they even have Scholastic Book Fairs in schools anymore? What a treat that was, going back to school with your parents in the evening to see all the new books for sale (and point out some future Christmas presents.)

Jennifer J. Chow said...

I agree, Martha. A fresh start in September is an excellent idea!

(New school supplies are still a thing--pencil boxes, compasses...although maybe not the plaid lunch box. And Scholastic Book Fairs are still happening, along with those book club flyers.)

Martha Reed said...

Hi Jennifer - My battery feels recharged and something more than the calendar has clocked over. I just crossed the 40,000 word mark on my current WIP.

KM Rockwood said...

I remember one fall when, out of the blue, my aunt bought me an outfit I coveted--purple plaid wool skirt, matching twin set and knee socks, penny loafers. Just like the rich kids. I felt like my whole life was being given a fresh start. I can still conjure up that invigorating feeling on bright, chilly fall afternoons.

Molly MacRae said...

Fall is a time of quickening and looking forward. Quickening and looking forward to what? That's up to us, and that makes it all the more exciting.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Having taught Spanish for many years and having attended school for even more years before that, I'm used to thinking of September as the start of a new year.

I wish you luck re your house sale and downsizing move. Just think—you'll have more time to write.