That melancholy as seasons shift

Summer is over. Well, it’s not technically over, according to the calendar, as autumnal equinox is not until September 22nd, two weeks away. But here in the US the feeling of summer definitely dissipates when Labor Day weekend (first Monday of September) is over and done. Kids go back to school. People’s vacations conclude.

Now my school days is over, so I don’t have that existential dread of another school year with all its challenges. And I take holidays all throughout the year. September is usually a great month here, weather wise. It’s a good time to get outside, especially since parks are less crowded. But there’s definitely a feeling of melancholy as things head towards fall. Summer is a time of endless days, adventure, excitement. Fall is about getting ready for winter and trying to cram one or two more summer-like adventures in before it gets too dark, cold, and wet to do so.

It’s hard to not take stock of the receding season and see how it turned out. I definitely had a bunch of adventures: Bay Area in June, Long Beach Peninsula in July, my birthday in the San Juans in August, Seattle in August, Oregon Wine Country just last week. I pretty much had an out-of-town adventure every other week from the end of June to about now. And there’ll be more coming: Boise towards the end of September, possibly eastern Washington in October, southern California in November.

But while biking was a component of most of these adventures, besides the San Juans Trip none of them were based around cycling. After years of bike touring and camping being my primary “vacations” in summer, this is a bit weird. And while our week in the San Juans was definitely a “bike tour”, because it was “inn-to-inn” and we stayed at one hotel for most of it, it didn’t always feel like it. Compare that to last year, when I had both the four-day Willamette Valley tour and the week long Oregon Coast jaunt. I guess because it’s ingrained in me, it doesn’t feel like “bike touring” if I’m not bike camping, or at least ending at a different spot everyday. And I haven’t camped since the Midweek Gorge trip in June, and that’s only the second camping trip I did this year.

As it is, I’m really itching to go bike camping. But this month is going to be tough. From this weekend through to the 23rd, I’ll be either busy with work or out of town. After that I’ll have more time for camping, but the window for good weather will not last that long. I could luck out and have a good October like the one I had in 2013, but towards the end the days grow really short and it gets cold overnight. Come November the idea of bike camping becomes difficult unless you head for a cabin or yurt.

And much as I like the idea of cramming in “a quick camping overnight” into an empty spot in my schedule, I know that it’s not the greatest idea. If I’m already busy, the overnight can be stressful. I’m not one who can pack my bike for camping in fifteen minutes, nor is riding to a destination the equivalent of commuting to work. Any camping overnight occupies two full days. As much as I love the idea of the true “s24o”, it rarely works out that way for me. I just have to wait until the time is right.

I do appreciate each season as it comes. And if it’s not too wet I really love autumn here in the Northwest. But every time summer comes to a close, I wish I had a little more time to get to do all the things I wanted to do.

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5 thoughts on “That melancholy as seasons shift

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  1. Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year, I love how the evenings begin to draw in, the darkness coming earlier; the change in the feel of the air as we get cooler temperatures and misty mornings; the colour on the trees before they shed their leaves; and the sense that things are headed towards Christmas but, before we get there, we have the fun of Halloween and (here in the UK) Bonfire Night. It reminds me of being young, hanging out with friends afer dark, sitting on the benches in the cemetery, chatting and joking, getting excited about the gifts I might receive come Christmas Day.
    I’m much older now and a lot of that exitement has dissipated – and I’ve not hung out in the cemetery with friends for a loong time! – but the memories linger and so I still seek to enjoy this period as much as I can – and it always seems to fly past!

    1. Oh, I do love autumn, especially the cool down after a hot summer. I just don’t like the “unfinished biz” of summer feeling I get when September comes around.

  2. Bike camping is something I aim to try next year. I am flirting with the notion of riding to Colchester with a group of friends who are doing the Nutmeg Nor’easter next month. I also want to take my kids (car) camping one last time, and can’t see myself doing both. Yes, even with autumn being my favorite season, I feel that melancholy well.

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