Autumn Routines

autumn

The first day of school was always a day met, for me, with both eager anticipation and deep despair. While it was a joy to get dressed up, as we did in those days, head out early on brisk mornings, and get back into a routine it also marked the end of carefree summer days.

Autumn has been a bit late this year. More than two days this past week have been in the 70s, an anomaly given the typical continental weather in the Pennsylvania community where I live. As we have sadly realized, global warming is throwing off the delicate balance of nature in so many ways. Although I admit I have enjoyed not wearing a jacket for just a few days longer, I am terrified for our planet, for her sustainability and viability in years that will stretch out beyond my own.

Despite the warm weather, I have been reminiscing about those early fall days of my youth, and remembering how this season compels me to ritually adopt certain routines that for some reason seem most welcome at this time of year. Like the giant trees that gently allow their leaves to return to the earth, I am letting go of things that have an expired meaningful purpose in my life. Things that are unnecessary, a nuisance. Internally, I am letting go of thoughts and feelings that weigh me down, allowing them to fall away from my life. After an almost too comfortable summer, I am re-establishing habits to improve my health and well-being. Life feels crisp, fresh, and breezy.

Autumn is now about halfway gone, and soon winter will arrive. Cold, snuggly days sipping warmth and longing for sunshine. I’m clearing my space to prepare for the pristine emptiness of our next earthly phase.

Rediscovering the Library

library

As a young woman, I spent a lot of time in the library. It was more than a place to kill a few hours every day in-between school and work; it was a magical place where all things were possible.

But lately, I have gotten out of the habit of visiting these local treasures. Enrolling in a Ph.D. program interrupted any leisure reading I might have enjoyed for several years and since (temporarily but for what is becoming a more extended time than I originally anticipated) disenrolling, I have, for some reason, not been voraciously reading as I had been in the past. While I still enjoy good books and articles, and read when I can, I often find myself too tired at night when I snuggle into bed to read and too busy during the day to take the time. I also spend much too much time at work in front of a computer so using my eyes to read text above and beyond that time is sometimes undesirable.

I recently visited three local libraries as part of a history research project. I have been to all three countless times before, as I have lived in all three cities, but had not stepped foot in any of them more than once or twice over the past few years. I felt that magic feeling again, a mixture of possibility, stillness, intellectual stimulation, and safety. It is an environment beautifully calibrated with my soul, a place where I feel right at home. According to the 2015 State of America’s Libraries: A Report from the American Library Association, Americans see libraries as “anchors, centers for academic life and research, and cherished spaces.” Yes, that’s it.

Libraries fill my heart with joy and my mind with wisdom. Like my home, the beach, and farms, they are one of the places where I feel most at ease, inspired, and alive. The last time I visited a library. a toddler was screaming and crying after story time because he didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t have said it better myself.