Summer is my favorite season. This isn’t front-page news—after all, who doesn’t love long sunny days, warm water to swim in, and all that fresh produce bounty to enjoy? But September is here, school is starting (my university started classes on Wednesday), the nights are cooler, and the light is changing. Sam recently wrote about welcoming fall here.
I love fall, too. Living in New England, I enjoy the vivid colors of the leaves, the crisp mornings and mellow days, and also the shift in sports. I ride my cyclocross bike more in the fall, and also resume playing squash, in preparation for the league play during late fall and winter.
But this year is different. I’m going to miss most of the fall, including attending my favorite cyclocross race in November in Northampton, Mass with friends, and opening the season with my squash team.
Why? Because I’m going to Australia for a few months. I’m on sabbatical this fall, which is one of the biggest benefits of having an academic job, for which I am continually grateful. I’ll be a visiting scholar here at the University of Sydney and also Flinders University in Adelaide, doing research in public health ethics. I have friends and colleagues there, and am really looking forward to working on several projects.
It’s going to be spring there when I arrive, and I’m staying until summer is almost underway. This is going to be great for doing outdoor activities. I’m taking my road bike with me, and will set about mastering riding on the left side of the road. I’m also taking some kayaking gear with me, and will be paddling around Sydney, Adelaide, and hopefully also the Great Barrier Reef. And the weather should be great for hiking and rambling about, strolling and riding around my new city, and exploring on day trips and weekends. What a perfect plan.
Except that I’m missing out on fall.
But why should that matter when I have this super-cool opportunity to sneak in an extra spring season with a smidge of summer before returning to winter in North America?
Of course, this is a super-cool opportunity, and I’m aware of and grateful for the privilege of my position. At the same time, it’s worth noting that I’m stepping out of my seasonal rotation, and flinging myself into a different one. It’s a funny feature of modern technological life that we can do this. Just last week I flew to South Carolina for a family reunion, and the fact that I can transport myself from my world in Boston to my family’s world 1000 miles away in a few hours always gives me a little pause. It’s warmer there, with different flora and fauna (especially insects—they practically run the place), and we can swim in my sister’s pool through September. Fall there is a more subtle event—the temperature drop is slower and later to come, and there are fewer fall colors present. The main shift I notice there is that everyone pays attention to high school and college football. A shift in sports focus—both playing and observing—is a clear way to note the change of season.
This is why it seems strange to think about jumping over fall and winter and heading directly to spring. It feels disorienting. At the same time, I’m delighted that I can extend my cycling and kayaking seasons for several more months, and explore these new environments with the luxury of longer days, more sun, and the green of spring to keep me company. Of course I will have to pay when I return in late December, as it will be winter. But I guess I can deal with that when it comes. For now, time to pack the sandals, sundresses, bathing suits and bib shorts…