When the air is as crisp and clear as it is today (an early September morning in the country), even the shaving soap smells sharper. There is none of that Summer humidity to thicken and weigh down the atmosphere; the household has an uplifting and ethereal air about it. The squared windows are all thrown up as widely as possible. Although the morning air was still cool, I rode my Electra cruiser to the office again today, flying downhill almost the entire way, rounding the corner at the old Town Hall, dipping under the railway bridge, then sharply braking in front of my office steps (secretly proud of my minor accomplishment).
On the heels of the Labour Day Weekend, things have already started to pick up. People are capitalizing upon the good weather to attend to the numerous housekeeping matters which they have successfully ignored for months. With the passage of Summer, people are beginning to think prospectively once again, not just immediately and indulgently. It is time now for making plans, making things happen, getting things done, putting things in order. Probably the same instinct that compels the squirrels to prepare for Winter.
It is quite remarkable how programmed we are to shift from one season to another, adopting the nature almost of an automaton. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear in the next several weeks the feigned alarm at approaching Winter and Christmas! And planning the Florida and Caribbean holidays will by now be well under way. Retailers know only too well how speedily to make the transition from Summer to Fall.
Getting back to the office and getting back to school certainly has the salubrious effect of reinforcing all that is good about the work ethic. It marshals the forces of the economy, gives meaning and direction to our otherwise purposeless lives, and fulfills the fundamental need to be of some use and importance in society. It’s a plain fact that the busy mind is a happy mind, whatever one might say about the advantages of leisure.
Nearing the end of the fourth quarter also focuses one’s mind upon the success of business undertakings to date. The annual statement of income and expenses begins to assume a more fixed nature, permitting one to contemplate with some assurance the dreadful subject of tax liability. The general opinion of the financial gurus seems to be that the Canadian recession is coming to an end, though not without leaving its scars and hang-overs. My sense is that the sharpest sting to the conscience has been in the matter of debt generally, now something to be actively shunned and abhorred. Money at any cost no longer has the attraction it did ten years ago. We have been reduced to thinking about the future, not the present, much as the older generation was formerly criticized for having done. Having now the opportunity to reflect upon my own lack of financial planning for the past thirty-three years, I recognize that it is likely too late to do anything of major significance to improve my battered condition (apart from selling everything I own). So, I comfort myself by thinking I would never be happy sitting at home watching television or fussing in the garden. Granted, there are days at the office when I think I no longer have the strength or desire to carry on, but a brief reminder to myself that I am now permitted to do things on my own terms, makes it easier to cope with my destiny. It is difficult at times to distance oneself from the previous inclination to tackle whatever came along, as though there were an obligation to do so. In fact, that may have been the case at one time, but the reward for a life-time career of this diet is to pick and choose at last, notwithstanding the perceived deleterious financial consequences of doing so.
These halcyon days of September will soon give way to Autumn, and we’ll then be tempted by the smell of wood smoke, late afternoon walks in heavy woolen knits and the mere spectacle and majesty of Nature’s annual decline. Before we know it, the first skiff of snow will be upon the grass.