‘August slipped away into a moment in time’

By Vivian Collings

Taylor Swift’s lyrics capture the season all too well.

Just like a favourite movie over too soon, the summer madness has reached its finale.

Much faster than it came, it’s gone.

Big yellow buses are on the roads, deciduous leaves shift from cool to warm tones a little more each day, and town is quieter.

Many visitors are back to their respective responsibilities of work and school, just as we are here at home.

Bittersweet and wistful are the two words that feel fitting to describe this season.

But it’s more than that, even.

It’s a sensation in itself, one that’s hard to put into words.

September brings a lot of change along with it. Not new change, though. 

It’s familiar.

It’s a feeling that lives inside all of us, not only when we turn the page of our calendars, but at the first glimpses of red on the tips of maple leaves, in the cool night air, and in the Ontario peaches and apples in baskets at the markets and grocery stores.

Each of these is a tangible reminder of that wistful feeling.

The all-too-familiar bittersweetness, I’ve realized, is always centred around school.

I can still remember how it felt to walk in the doors of Archie Stouffer Elementary School on the first day of school each year.

I can remember the smell of the books in the library.

I can remember the faces of my new teachers. 

I can clearly picture the cross-country trail up on that big hill, framed by falling leaves on either side.

I can remember what parts were muddy, what parts were steep, what parts we ran past faster because we thought ghosts lived nearby.

And then came Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.

I can remember my first time riding the bus on that September day, just like today, 10 years ago.

I can picture those hallways and classrooms in detail and how I felt in them.

I remember my very first classes – collecting water samples from Head Lake and putting droplets under a microscope in science, learning how to use GIS mapping in geography, meeting people who are still my best friends today in art class for the first time.

Talking to people generations older than me, they say the same of their school experiences. How amazing is that?

Although September always reminds us of these old, familiar feelings, it doesn’t mean we aren’t caught by surprise.

How strange, and wonderful, and wistful to wake up one day and find that everything’s different and may never be the same again.

And that’s what makes this season bittersweet, and beautiful.

It’s really easy to assume you’ll have something forever; warm weather, a friend in town before they move away, the bustle of events everyday.

Everything is temporary.

We can let ourselves get “lost in the memory” sometimes, but the most important part, though, is to “live for the hope of it all,” in the moment, collecting those memories to be stored with that all-too-familiar feeling.

Because the “only thing that’s constant in life is change.”