That Late Summer Feeling

Heleniums, ©AngelaPorter | Artwyrd.com

Both warm, golden sunlight and a cool breeze flow in through my open windows. The combination ignites memories of the end of the school holidays and the pleasure of buying new pens, pencils, and colouring media ready for the new term. I remember trips to the local Woolworths, a department store chain now long gone from the UK, and a local stationer, which sadly closed just before the pandemic, to get these supplies, and a notebook of some kind to try them all out in.

I could barely wait to get home to try the supplies out in the notebook and the pleasure of writing and drawing. There were a couple of sets of encyclopaedias in the family home. No novels. No other reference books. Just encyclopaedias and a dictionary or two. I can remember flicking through one and finding an article about red squirrels. I delighted in carefully copying out the information about them in my best writing. Then I did my best to draw a squirrel with some acorns and foliage and added some simple colour. The same golden light flowed through the windows, and there was a gentle breeze through the open doors, just as I’m experiencing today.

The dappled light I associate with this time of year also brings back memories of reading a book about a boy and a dinosaur. The book’s title is long forgotten, but the memory of dappled light coming in through the car windows as the family returned from a day out at Southerndown is clear in my mind, as is how I went to lie on my bed and continued reading when we got home.

The balmy warmth always makes me feel like I need to nap, bringing back more autumn memories. I remember lying in bed, reading some murder mystery book, on a Saturday afternoon not long after my long-ago partner and I moved into this house, the house I still live in. Sunlight was coming in, warming the bedroom and along with a refreshing, cool breeze. I could hear the sound of a rugby match in the distance, where he was and wasn’t expected home until late that evening. So, I indulged myself that afternoon, cuddling up under the covers, safe, secure, and comforted, just like so many Saturday afternoons in childhood, and gently dozing off. And even now, in my late middle years, I still enjoy that comfort and safety and a nap, especially on these balmy days that presage the coming of autumn; “The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” as Keats wrote.

I’m focusing here on the happy parts of these memories, for they are what lift my heart at this time of year, and those feelings are ever-present.

My love of pens, paper, writing and drawing, reading and napping still remains, as well as of this time of year that leads to autumn.

There was a time when this time of year, the summer holidays ending, I’d be increasingly anxious and stressed about my return to school – as a teacher. But those days are now long enough ago that I just feel the excitement of the soon-changing seasons, the autumnal equinox, and the glorious fiery colours of nature preparing to sleep through the cold months.

It fascinates me how repeating a particular pattern of weather and time of year can bring up powerful memories that I never think about at other times. They trigger a journey into the recesses of my memory, and nowadays, only the good ones surface, mostly. Finally, however, the demons of the unpleasant ones have been put into demon jail, thanks to EMDR therapy; for that, I am very grateful.

It will be a while longer before summer’s dull, monotone greens start to be brightened with pops of the golden-fire colours of autumn. But I can feel the change in the air, and I long for it.

I hope that the feeling of autumn will ignite a sense of wanderlust in me, much as it did for both Bilbo and Frodo in JRR Tolkien’s writings. I do not intend to debate a dragon or cast a magic ring into Doom’s Fires. However, I hope it will encourage me to leave the sanctuary of my home a bit more often, local trips and visits particularly.

Small these journeys will be in terms of distance and time, but they will be the start of a long journey for me to work out how I can feel safe and calm in the big outside world in a way I never have. And preparing myself mentally and emotionally to do even the most minor thing takes some time; I have to practically sneak up on myself and just do it without thinking about it!

But there is no rush to start today, even if I had a burning urge to do so! I am waiting for a delivery, and the westward-moving clouds are gathering and filtering the gold and warmth from the mid-afternoon sunlight.

Until I and my schedule are ready, I can research to find places to visit close to me, both the familiar and unfamiliar. Then, I can practice hand lettering as I make a list in my ‘travel’ journal. Then I can try to find my set of multi-sided dice to roll to choose a destination as I can become overwhelmed by choice!  Though, to be kind to myself, I will give myself permission to re-roll if the original result overwhelms me. Or perhaps I should have some lists for how I’m feeling each day. Hmmm… this needs some thinking about!

Thinking about going forward

I last visited Curious Stops and Tea Shops and posted over two years ago. The past two and a half years have seen a global pandemic; for many, life has changed an awful lot. I am one of those people. I don’t get out and about as much as I used to. Living by myself means I have been able to finally know what it’s like to have very little or no anxiety; that is, once the fear of Covid had eased off. I’ve realised that being out around people causes me so much anxiety and stress, which I thought was ‘normal’, but now I know that isn’t the case.

So, as I’m slowly learning how far I can push myself (or not) in re-engaging with the world outside my home, I need to think about this blog and where to take it going forward.

There are many ways to travel, and many curious stops can be made. Travel isn’t always physical; it can be intellectual, philosophical, emotional and spiritual.

I am inquisitive, and I often spelunk my way through some subject that has caught my attention, often with lots of mugs of tea to accompany me on my journey of discovery.

Books, novels and fiction are another way to travel, learn more about the world and experience things through other people’s eyes and circumstances.

Then there’s cooking. The easy-ish availability of foods, spices and herbs from around the world means that a journey through new recipes can be taken too.

I hope this will get me out more often for gentle local walks to learn more about my area’s history, nature, and much more. I hope this will get me to use my digital SLR more and journal more about what I discover, notice, feel and experience. I look forward to visiting places in different seasons, times of day and weather. There’s always a different story to be told, a different experience.

During the last two years, not rushing here and there has given me time to take courses in art and illustration, hand lettering and typography, and writing and journaling. In addition, I’ve watched documentaries and films, listened to podcasts and audiobooks, read books and taken journeys of discovery through blogs, websites and YouTube videos, to name a few. All these are journeys, in my opinion, as they have all led to a richer life experience.

This blog was always meant to be one about journeys of discovery. It’s taken a while for the penny to drop that some of the most meaningful personal journeys we take in life aren’t physical ones but ones that lead to inner growth on one level or another.

So, going forward, I’m likely to do blog posts here on all kinds of journeys that I undertake periodically. I hope these will be surprising and interesting, both for myself and you.