Tomorrow is the first of September, and I always look forward to its arrival. It heralds the end of the summer, and the start of autumn, and is one of my two favourite months, the other being March. This is mainly because March is the month of my birthday, and because it is the end of the winter. I have always enjoyed my birthday. It is personal, unlike Christmas, which is for everyone.
I have always felt that March was a good time to celebrate a birthday. The weather can be surprisingly good sometimes, so it is possible to plan a nice day out, to celebrate. It is far enough away from December, so not caught up in the festive hangover, and equally unaffected by the summer rush for outdoor activities. In England, most places of interest or traditional seaside tourist spots are still closed up, awaiting the season.
This means that trips in March have the feel of delicious isolation, making it all seem even more special. The countryside is just beginning to wake up, after the long winter sleep. Bulb flowers are peeking through the ground, and animals are getting restless, awaiting the time of new births. Birds start to arrive from countries still locked in the depths of winter, and as the month nears its end you feel the promise of spring in the air.
September is the complete opposite. The young animals and birds have long left the safety of their parents, and are making their way in life. The trees and plants stop growing, ready to shed leaves, petals, and seeds. There is also the prospect of a late summer, as if the sun has forgotten it should have left. Warm evenings before the dark returns, the last insects of the year making their final rounds. The children are going back to school, freeing the beaches and other nice places from their shrieking and crying. The tractors have finished on the farms, at least for a while, and the roads are no longer jammed with traffic heading for the coast, or beauty spots inland.
Everything is handed back to the mature and the contemplative. Restaurants and cafes that turned you away during the summer rush now crave your patronage. Shops are full with Christmas stock, so there is no reason to head for shopping centres as they no longer have anything you need. This is the time when I take my holiday, or as I am now retired, so arguably on permanent holiday, when Julie takes her annual holiday.
Starting tomorrow, we have two weeks together, with no foreign trips planned, a chance to explore Norfolk, and possibly other parts of the U.K. During weekdays at least, anywhere we want to go will be free from wandering packs of families, the ear-splitting cries of children, the bellowing of fed up parents, and the congestion of buggies. As an added bonus, it is also too soon for schools to have organised trips, so we will also avoid the chattering snakes of over-excited children, marshalled by earnest teachers.
It is a long time to wait for September. All your friends and colleagues have been away already; back with glowing tans, and tales of beaches and sambuca, or a hot Provencal summer. You don’t mind though, you know it will be worth it. The leaves will be changing colour on the trees, the fields cleared, neat and tidy as a freshly made bed. Time off in September feels stolen, as everyone else settles back into the drudgery after the long summer break.
Your time has just begun.