Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! What a task to ask of anything, or anyone…
Mary Oliver

I love it when the shirts turn plaid.
New Yorker cartoon in reference to the fall season.

A few days ago, following an early morning rain, I sat on a park bench taking in the freshness of the day, soaking up the sun, and gazing at the trees.  A few leaves waltzed their way to the ground, and I thought Wow!

Autumn is here. My favourite season: resplendent colour; crisp air, and all things cozy.

Where did summer go? It was here, only to depart too soon. Summer unleashed a collective longing to spend time outdoors. Who could imagine that a walk in the park or a meal at an outdoor patio could feel like a novel experience?  The opening of playgrounds was cause for celebration. Connections with friends and family approximated some semblance of normalcy.  It was one of those summers to eat lots of ice cream.

The summer of 2020 was a chance to boldly seize the day.

The fall of 2020 offers us another chance. 

This bewildering roller coaster of a year has taken a toll and it’s not even over. With COVID numbers moving in the wrong direction (at least where I live), it’s hard not to feel weary. I cannot claim to have born the brunt of the virus’s impact as others have, but weariness seeps in from time to time, masked as crankiness, zoom fatigue, and an urge to ditch the mask when my glasses fog up. The weather is now more unpredictable; too many small businesses are closed or hanging on by a thread; and I so want my family to be able to gather. No wonder many of us see the fall and approaching winter as a long hibernation while we wait for life to change.

Let’s not head down that path.

Summer was fleeting. So is autumn. How do we take advantage of this precious changing of the seasons so we can squeeze everything we love out of the day?  In thinking about this, I was reminded of Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow, which she describes as the three essential prayers.

If there was ever a time to ask for help, it’s now.  If there was ever a time to extend help, it’s now. The days ahead, uncertain as they are, are moving in the direction of shorter, colder, and darker. We need to help each other through.

Help in any form, whether offered or received, can move us to express thanks– an acknowledgement that something good has happened that is worthy of being named. COVID has given us the opportunity to pay attention to those many “somethings”, ones I have missed even when they were staring me in the face.

Expressing thanks can also evoke a sense of awe, that WOW moment – and it may only be a moment- when all feels right with the world. Even in this turbulent year filled with upheaval, there is much that is right. Autumn is filled with wow moments. Here are a few of mine:

  • Children playing
  • The fiery brilliant colour of leaves (may they stay on the trees as long as possible)
  • Quiet time
  • Being with those I love
  • Good books to immerse myself in
  • Glad I live in the great country that I do
  • Comfort food of all kinds
  • Gestures of kindness
  • The sky in all forms of weather
  • Chocolate- always chocolate

Bring out the comforters, pillows, candles, and warm cozy socks and watch the leaves fall. It’s hygge time. *  I love it!

Wow moments can be sidetracked by pesky interrupting thoughts. That morning on the park bench, I could hear the voice in my head saying: “Audrey—you have a number of things to do today. Time to get going.”  Really?! There was nothing pressing that could not wait. Why listen to that nagging voice when there are trees to be admired? In resisting the urge to leave the park bench and remain in place, I made my best decision of the day.

We can commiserate about the summer that is gone and slide into the winter of our discontent. Or we can enjoy autumn. What I expected to be doing this fall will likely not materialize. But something else will. It may even be better. As Mary Oliver noted: The world offers itself to your imagination.

As always, let us say thanks….

… to those who do so much- seen and unseen- in hospitals and community agencies; all involved in organizing, driving, delivering, feeding, governing, educating, building, repairing, cleaning, trying to hold together a small business; all of it and more.

You know the drill. Do what you can; donate to a favourite charity; tip generously; buy local and say THANK YOU!

And as you squeeze all the great stuff out of the day, shout out Wow!

*Hygge is a Danish word that is difficult to translate but refers to living well such as enjoying all kinds of coziness. From: Wiking, Meik. (2016). The Little Book of Hygge. The Danish Way to Live Well. Penquin Random House.

4 thoughts on “Squeeze the Day- Changing Seasons in the Time of COVID-19

  1. That’s beautiful, Audrey. Your words remind me that worrying about the winter of discontent that may lie ahead (or may not) doesn’t serve our souls, being present to the splendour of this fall moment will fill us up. Thank you.


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