It all felt so sorrowful. The temperature had gone to neutral. The air was emptied of the carefree warmth of summer, at the same time as it was still free of the bite of autumn. The forest floor smelled musty and the mushrooms had already begun their work of breaking down the fallen debris from the trees. The bees at the coops under the berry-laden branches of the mountain ash tree buzzed at a lower frequency than during the previous week, when summer had seemed as though it had come to stay forever. The water birds knew that we were at the threshold of the new season, as they sought eagerly for the fish that had begun to rise from the depths to the cooling surface. Somewhere in the background were the early voices of departure, with Canada geese squawking like disorganized travellers.
I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want change. I didn’t want autumn. These thoughts repeated themselves like a mantra that made next steps seem quite impossible. Just to make things doubly as challenging, the skies poured buckets of cool early autumn rain on our first day back in town. The weather woman had said that we were in for some “considerable change,” and, looking out the window on the first early school morning when there was no avoiding feeling tired, it seemed that she may have been right. It bothered me that under their umbrellas people were rushing down the hill past our house to the bus stop in the browns, greys and blacks of the latest autumn fashions. We hadn’t even seen out August.
Ellie the dog stood at the door wondering whether we were walking or swimming this early morning. In defiance of the pre-autumn mood, I swung on my bath robe and swimming gear, and we walked over the hill to the beach as the rain let up a little. In Stockholm one is never far from the water. As we walked down the length of the dock, the wind hit us and the sight of the choppy waves indicated that on this side of the hill we were in a storm. Since I wasn’t ready to give up on summer yet and reasoned that there was nothing wrong with swimming in the rain, I lowered myself into the water and swam along the length of the shore. The water felt warm compared to the outside temperature, and the waves massaged my shoulders as I backstroked to avoid the water hitting my face. As the sail boat moored at the next dock rocked back and forth like a cradle in the waves, it struck me how surprisingly calming all this was. Prejudice simply comes from the avoidance of experience.
This morning the sun shone on the dock at 7 am. The water was tame, but the dock had gone clammy and green, as it does each early autumn. Everything felt a degree or two colder, but it was alright. I had met the new season on my own terms. It is, after all, one of those distinguishing features of human nature that we feel better when we think we are in charge.
Learn more about Julie Lindahl’s books about living in Sweden at www.julielindahl.com. Visiting the Gothenburg Book Fair? Like Julie’s Island at Facebook to keep up with news of where you can find Julie there.