My favorite season of the year has always been and still is autumn. Perhaps being a teacher had something to do with it. But even as a little girl I loved autumn. I grew up in a village east of the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, where the majority of the villagers were farmers. They made their living mainly from selling apples that they grew in their orchards. In autumn the whole village would come to life, in preparation for winter, as the men would pick the apples, and the women would prepare tomato paste from the tomatoes picked from their gardens. The streets of the village smelled of tomatoes and freshly baked bread.
In other words, autumn is the season when new things happened. School re-opened, with new classrooms, new teachers and friends, new books and stationery. And of course the first rain of the year that smelled of earth and nature (freshness).
Later as an adult and in Dubai I still loved autumn, even though the weather didn’t change. Autumn in Dubai meant back to school. Dubai probably being the most cosmopolitan city in the world, back to school for me meant embracing new cultures. Each academic year brought new students from all around the world with different cultural backgrounds, some so rich that as a person I felt so privileged to be their teacher, to come in contact with them and get to know them. And each year my life became richer and I felt younger to be among these vibrant young people.
And now that I live in Montreal and I am not teaching anymore, I still like autumn the most. I love how the colors of trees around me change in autumn. I love how the sky turns different shades of different blues and grays in autumn, something I didn’t have in Dubai. It’s a different kind of feeling altogether now especially that I am in the autumn of my life. A feeling of how close winter is with its cold and snow and wind and storms. And of course the people.
Unfortunately I do not meet too many young people anymore, the ones I meet are either my age or older. I don’t know if it’s the weather or what but some of the young people I have come across here seemed to me to be lacking the enthusiasm and zest of life that I so cherish and hold dear to my heart. I don’t know what is it in life that makes some people seem older than they actually are. In the words of Ray Bradbury:
“For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer.”
It is as if at some point in their lives the light has left their eyes and life has stopped somehow somewhere along their way and they have never been able to get out of the abyss they have sunk into. Their days drag along by themselves and they just seem to drag themselves along with every passing day. This is all fine but as Ray Bradbury wrote:
“There are times when we’re all autumn people.”
It is during those times that I wish I could surround myself with positive people. People who emanate life, whose zeal and zest for life is so contagiously compelling that they will infect me also. But until I meet them I have to do with what I have stashed away from my summer days.
“Most of us are half-and-half. The August noon in us works to stave off the November chills. We survive by what little Fourth of July wits we’ve stashed away.” Ray Bradbury