Photo of the River Valley and Muttart Conservatory in autumn. Leif Gregersen
Fall is upon us. The leaves have changed and temperatures have begun to drop. It feels like it shouldn’t be fall yet because here in Edmonton there really wasn’t much of a summer to speak of. Still, fall to me is a special time for many reasons.
One of the first things I think about when the weather turns to fall is that I can count on some pleasant changes. One is the return of students to school. This year I am making a special effort to attend a class at the University called Humanities 101. It gives me great joy to head out once a week to the prestigious and beautiful U of A campus to fill my head with knowledge.
Next is that when the weather cools, one truly starts to appreciate the indoors. I sleep better in the cool, fresh air. I don’t find myself wanting to do a lot more with my evenings than sit and watch a movie, read a book, or even have a long phone conversation with a close friend.
Many of my friends take part in some of our city’s awesome festivals, not the least of which is Heart of the City. Some of us have to adapt our work as each new season comes. The job market can be a bit tough, as there are so many students trying to make ends meet, to save for their first car, or even tuition. In my line of work – community education – I had many opportunities to speak at high school Career and Life Management classes. But when fall came, perhaps for the first time, I found myself becoming part of the education system, going back to teaching creative writing and other subjects.
In a way, our own lifetimes are similar to the four seasons. As young children, we are in the springtime, with all new experiences and opportunities for growth and fun. Summer hits in the years when we have finished school and find ourselves bonding with friends, discovering adulthood, and, if we are lucky, falling in love. As time passes, the autumn of our lives come, the time when we must work hard to provide for the needs of our families, the young ones, and our elders. This is the time when we must prepare for the winter of our lives, when it is so important to lay down the roots that will hold us up in the chill and cold.
Right now, I see myself as in my fall season of life, and to be honest, it feels great. As a younger person, I wasn’t trusted with things like I am now. I have become someone responsible enough to lead a support group for vulnerable patients in a hospital, to manage my own home and my own money. And with experience and contacts, it has become much easier for me to find fulfilling and good paying work.
Soon, as we know, time will slip away, and barring disaster, I and others in my age group will find ourselves in the winter of our lives. Retirement comes, and hopefully with it savings, some travel, many family gatherings, and the joy of another generation being born. We have hopes that, with our help and experience, they may avoid some of the pitfalls of life we had. I find it to be truly beautiful when I can pick up the phone and talk to my niece across the country, and just feel so privileged to witness her growing up and becoming a wonderful young adult.
And then there was something that came with a great deal of joy and pride. I was recently asked to teach poetry to an entire school of elementary students, and I really felt like I connected with these young ones. This was perhaps the best gift I have received in the “fall” of my lifetime: to be well-known and respected and to have the ability to pass something on to the newest generation in our society. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Seasons really are beautiful things each year, and in each of our lives.
_Leif lives in McCauley. You can learn more about him and his work at edmontonwriter.com