That September feeling, that sense of anticipation that has always, always accompanied everything I do from the middle of August onwards has eluded me this year. So far anyway.

I’m still waiting for it to wash over me and leave behind the familiar sense of excitement for new beginnings. Not necessarily the excitement that a new school year is beginning. I have been retired for ten years… it’s no wonder that has worn off. But I usually still feel a certain nostalgia for those first days of school. And anticipation for new books, new clothes. And new adventures.

Just not this year. Not so far, anyway.

I’m trying to be patient with myself. To lose myself in things that I love doing. But it seems that like Georgia O’Keefe once said, “I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again.”

Original source listed here.

Of course I’ve not been doing nothing. If you’ll pardon the double negative. Not exactly. Just less of what I would normally be doing. With less enthusiasm. Or I should say with less sustained enthusiasm. There have been bouts of enthusiasm. I’ve felt the odd moment of anticipation. Little flurries of excitement. That’s how I know that this will all pass. And I’ll be myself again.

In the meantime, Hubby and I have been enjoying his garden since we came home from New Brunswick. Fresh carrots, freshly dug new potatoes, beans, tomatoes, kale, cucumbers.

Freshly dug carrots from Hubby’s garden

I’m back on my regular exercise routine, which always helps my mood. I’ve been walking, cycling with Hubby, and pedalling my exercise bike. And while I’m on the exercise bike I’ve been perusing Instagram and Pinterest. Looking for fall fashion ideas. And discovering this haircut in my perusals. I’m thinking of asking Carmen to give me a classic pixie cut next time. It would be so easy to manage when we’re in Portugal in October.

I have finally allowed myself to start thinking again about our trip to Portugal at the end of the month. After Mum’s death I didn’t think about it at all. Except to remember how far away it was, and how I did not need to think about it, not yet. We’d done all our planning and bookings months ago.

But now, the first week of September, is the time I set aside to do a wardrobe inventory and plan what to pack.

So I’ve started thinking about my trip wardrobe. Reading my packing lists from our last big trip to Slovenia and Croatia in 2019. Looking at what worked, what I will reprise, and what mistakes I made. Making lists of possible pieces to pack. And a list of what I need to buy. I attempted to do a preliminary try-on session last week, but it was too hot. The trying on can wait until the temperatures cool in a week or so.

It’s hard to pack for cooler temperatures when the weather is sweltering. Hard to imagine any weather but what you are experiencing. I still remember the mistakes I made packing for our first trip to Australia. How does one pack for the heat of an Australian summer, or even their fall, when it’s -30° C in January in Canada? I learned my lesson the hard way and froze my sandalled feet on a rainy autumn night in Sydney. Who knew that 20° C could feel so cold?

I’ve been out shopping once with my “to buy” list. I visited the new Uniqlo store in downtown Ottawa on Thursday. I was very impressed with the stock, the service, the prices, and the quality of the pieces I tried. And purchased, I should add. I found a long-sleeved, black and white striped, cotton tee shirt, a light-weight, merino wool sweater, and a pair of black jeans, all of which were on my to-buy list for our trip. I’d budgeted two hours for my shopping before I had to meet my friend Susan for lunch, and I was done my list in half an hour.

This gave me plenty of time to stroll around the Byward Market area in the sunshine and visit a store which I love. At Schad, I splurged on a beautiful, dark green silk blouse from Frame. This shirt is NOT for our trip. But I’ve already planned at least three fall outfits in my head around this shirt. I’ll show it to you in a later post. In the meantime, you can find it here.

Then clutching my purchases I headed off for lunch with my old friend. Shopping, crossing things off my list, splurging on a silk blouse, then a lovely lunch, and a good catch-up with my friend. That whole day went a long way to reestablishing my equanimity. To making me feel like me again.

Our delicious lunch at Play: Food and Wine.

Of course recapturing my sense of equanimity is always helped along by books. As my mum once said to me over the phone when she was having a lonely day after my step-father had passed away, “What do people do who don’t read books, Susie?” “I don’t know, Mum,” I replied.

I bought Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford weeks ago. It’s all about the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I started it, but then set it aside for this upcoming week when Hubby is away fishing. Weather permitting, I’ll be sitting on the deck for a couple of days, cup of tea by my elbow, doing nothing but read.

This past week, I’ve been reading A Tiding of Magpies one of Steve Burrows’ “Birder” series about Detective Chief Inspector Dominic Jejeune, a transplanted Canadian working in Norfolk, England. Jejeune is, like his creator, obsessed with birds. Hence the name of the series. I like this series. Although I do grow weary of all the bird detail after a while. I guess I’m a bit like Jejeune’s colleagues whose eyes glaze over at the mention of birdwatching. Still, I’m enjoying this one.

I’ve also been listening to the newest Ann Cleeves book in her Two Rivers series, set in north Devon and featuring DI Matthew Venn. I always like Cleeves’ books and while Venn is not as irascible and interesting a character as Vera Stanhope, I like this series. The new book is called The Raging Storm.

The other piece of entertainment that has been absorbing me this week is an old BBC series I found on Prime. Edward and Mrs. Simpson was first broadcast in 1978, and, frankly, it’s stunningly good. In my opinion, of course. Edward Fox as Edward VIII is wonderful. Just right. He even looks like the real thing. And he plays the role so that the viewer is alternately charmed and exasperated by the Prince of Wales who would become king for such a short time. The other cast members are really good too. Even Lord Beaverbrook seems much as this fellow Canadian always imagined him to be. My hometown and the university I attended owe much to Lord Beaverbrook, and his name adorns statues, hotels, university residences, and skating rinks in Fredericton.

I found Edward and Mrs. Simpson a fascinating watch. Much as I did while watching The Crown, I kept pausing to look up historical characters. And if I didn’t know that it was filmed in the seventies, I might suspect that some of its scenes were taken right out of the real life of Princess Diana. The chase scene in France when Mrs. Simpson and her protectors are being hounded by the press: a night scene of speeding cars, horns, lights in the darkness, and a tunnel was chilling in light of what happened in 1997.

Wandering downtown Ottawa

You know, that September feeling for me has always been tied up with books. Back when I was a kid it was new school books that had to be brought home and covered with brown paper to keep them pristine. Did you have to “cover” your books when you were a kid? I always loved that as part of the ritual of the new school year. Then of course we could decorate the covers with crayons and markers which I always loved.

These days that September feeling is associated with the anticipation of new books by authors I love. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the fourth Thursday Murder Club mystery by Richard Osman. If you haven’t been following along with this delightful series that takes place in a seniors care home, what have you been doing? You are three books behind, my friend. The fourth book, The Last Devil to Die, will be released on September 19, at least that’s the date here in Canada. I’ve pre-ordered it.

I mean… I think I have. Ha. In a flurry of excitement in the summer I pre-ordered a bunch of books and now I can’t remember which ones I ordered for my Kindle, which I ordered on Audible, and which I decided could wait until they come into our library. I guess I’ll just have to be surprised when they pop up on my device.

So that’s what I have been up to this first week of September. This first week of the new school year. Not exactly bouncing into fall which I am wont to do most years. Anticipating new books, new sweaters, new adventures. At least not yet. But I’m pretty sure by the time I am actually packing our suitcases for Portugal I will have recaptured that September feeling.

Just in time for October.

What have you been doing as September begins, my friends?

P.S. The book links in this post, and the link to the Frame blouse are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog.

P.P.S. You probably noticed that I have taken the advice of a couple of readers and included a “Buy Me a Coffee” link on the blog. This is a way you can support the blog, and help cover my expenses, without making a purchase through my affiliate links. Up to now the only way the blog made money was through the commission earned when readers made a purchase. Using the “Buy Me a Coffee” method means you can still support me even if I don’t have links in a post. Many, many thanks to those ladies who have already done so, and thanks for the lovely comments too. And please, please do not feel obligated to click that link.

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38 thoughts on “That September Feeling”

  1. It’s understandable that you’re feeling rather low just now . Bereavement , & everything connected with it , is emotionally draining & you need time to recover . You seem to be doing all the right things , good food , good books , good friends , little treats & a holiday coming along . I love the rich colour of your blouse & can see it glowing in christmas candlelight .
    The Nancy Milford book sounds promising , I love a good biography. I’ll look out for the Tiding of Magpies too . Whilst we’re not serious birdwatchers , we enjoy watching them going about their lives . There were two owls in the big tree near our bedroom window last night which we haven’t known before . One yes , but not two . I enjoyed the first of the Two Rivers series but read the second straight after & it was too similar . I should have left a gap . I’m looking forward to the new Richard Osman . He seems to have started a new genre but he’s the master , perhaps because of his natural humour . There’s a tendency to knock the really popular – the tall poppy syndrome & he’s a very tall poppy . You might like this article
    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2023/sep/09/richard-osman-i-would-have-been-terrible-in-mi6-im-too-tall-spill-secrets-and-cant-lie
    Two books I’ve enjoyed recently are The Dictionary of Lost Words ( thank you Dottoressa) & A Complicated Matter by Anne Youngerson . I do like her books .
    Whilst you are planning for Portugal we are packing for Wales . We have a cottage booked on the Mawdach estuary near Dolgellau from next weekend . I do like the Welsh place names , sounds like a different country , which it is of course .

    1. Thank you Wendy! I’m glad that you’ve liked it. I’ve got so many excellent book recomendations here and at Frances’ blog-so nice to have such a great community!
      D.

    2. I love that phrase…tall poppy syndrome. I love Osman’s books. They are funny without getting too silly. I suspect his imitators are not able to manage that. Have fun in wales. Every time we see an Escape to the Country that is set in Wales we think we should go there.

  2. I am relieved summer, strange as it has been this year, is coming to a close. We are at the end of a sudden heatwave – hot, hot days and humid, muggy nights. I have a school reunion next week and then a week away and then we are in October and I want things to be more recognisable. I find there is too much pressure to love summer, to do summery things, to be filled with summer joys when, in reality, I am happier in May and October than I am at the height of summer. When you can shut the door and stay inside and nobody thinks it odd. Fortunately it is cooler today, the last day of a three-day hen weekend and I will admit to looking forward to some quiet times this week. Always my default. Enjoy the tea and the books.

  3. I remember the series! E. Fox was,and always will be, more Edward VIII than even Edward VIII himself, for me!
    Agree about M. Venn series,but I love her writing and have enjoyed the new book (have finished yesterday)- even tried to prolong the reading ,to last me more! Waiting for Osman’s new book,as well ,September 14th (hopefully,I’ll be still at the seaside,where I read and do everything on my phone-hence all the typos. And a lot of page turning :)!),and new J. K. Rowling. I’ve liked S. Burrows books and than I wanted to make a break- I can’t find the last book I’ve read-it seems they are not downloaded on my phone
    Thumbs up for the coffee!
    Pixie would be great for the trip! I’ve never been to Portugal,lucky you! What a wonderful autumn is before you!
    Dottoressa

  4. That blouse is simply lovely. I love the satiny look and the colour is fabulous.

    Funny you ate at Play. When I take my team out for lunch we often choose Play. I like the interesting lunch options.

    It’s completely normal and in fact would be odd if you were feeling like yourself right now. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. I hope the anticipation for the Portugal trip climbs at exactly the right pace for you and combines with a gradual increase in interest in your usual activities.

    PS Will be happy to buy you coffees to support the blog once I understand the payment options better.

    1. Play can get a bit pricey for lunch but I don’t mind because the food is always so good. I’m loking forward to getting my travel wardrobe organized. It’s time. 🙂
      p.s. Please do not feel obligated to buy coffee. 🙂

      1. In fact, I don’t eat out often but I find it very expensive these days. Play works for teams because it has the small plates option and a bit of variety. Even a sandwich in downtown Ottawa these days will run you $12.

  5. Oh my gosh! Making book covers from brown paper grocery bags. Thanks for that memory. Haven’t thought about that in years and years.

  6. Yes! The first day of school we came home with our books and mom covered them expertly with brown grocery bag paper. It was a ritual.

  7. Brown grocery bags made into book covers. Loved to line them up on the creases! What fun. Been to Ottawa many years ago, went to Parliament, the Embassy, stayed at the Lord Elgin, ate well and bought lots of clothes. Enjoy your blog tremendously and look forward to reading it every Sunday morning. Live in the US but love Canada! Enjoying hurricane season at present here in the mid Atlantic area. Thanks for the book recommendations. Enjoy Portugal…..

  8. I’m not surprised you’re finding this time tough — still early days for you in a world without a mother. I’m pleased that you’re finding ways to, not so much reconcile yourself, as adjust, to get through this period of grief and mourning. Having to do those last bits of trip planning — especially the wardrobe acquisition and organization, your specialty! — is a good start. And if you can add in lunch at Play with a good friend, a walk through sunny Ottawa past the National Gallery, and then know you’ve got a stack of engaging books to read when you get home — Wisdom!!
    I read Milford’s biography of Millay a few years ago. In fact, my posts on it (I needed two!) were among my first reading posts on the blog (back in 2007! Whoa!) . At if you’re curious, and then the post immediately following. And then I’ve re-posted the one with the sonnet a few times since, in November, when it seems appropriate. She was really something. (I haven’t read any of the Richard Osman books — I’d better get started, right?)

    1. I see those links doesn’t show up. If you’re at all curious, the post is titled Vignettes of a Life, and it was first published on the blog on November 25, 2007 — the search feature on the blog should bring it up. . . .

    2. I love her poetry. I had not heard about the book until I watched a documentary on Prime about her life. And what a life it was! I will definitely look for those posts, Frances.

  9. Yes I remember the brown paper bag book covers! Some ‘racy’ kids used gift wrap and when my mother heard that she opined that they would be “falling apart by Christmas!” She was correct and these unwise students were told to use paper bags for the New Year. We were only allowed to draw the school crest and name on the cover and our name ( neatly printed) on the top or bottom. My mother was an artist therefore our crests looked as if they had been printed on the paper. You’d look good in the pixie! Pixies as seen on the young models always look adorable but translation to an older face can be tricky. You have the cute roundish face that can carry off a softer pixie cut and a talented stylist which is key.
    I stick to my below chin length French Bob as I now have ‘too much face’ for a pixie though wore one for years.
    Schad always has lovely clothing though no longer in my budget wheel house. Play is a favourite spot for after ballet drinks and bites. The food and atmosphere is wonderful. I miss lunch at the now closed Nordstrom’s cafeteria.
    Our child works retail at Rideau and regularly reports on ‘street issues’ both in and outside. It’s shocking the issues the market is going through and hopefully the city will step in to help this famous tourist attraction revive.
    This minute looking out at a calm blue Northumberland Strait… and thinking about all those who must endure ‘la rentrée’ this September while we enjoy (finally) our beautiful PEI property.
    Hopefully Portugal also allows you to take a deep breath and put your cares on the back burner!

    1. I always get a shorter cut before we travel since we’re usually away for a while, so I thought I’d try a pixie. We’ll see if I actually go through with it. Enjoy P.E.I.

  10. Haven’t thought about paper bag school book covers in years. It was one chore that was always fun to do, so thanks for that memory! If you haven’t read books by James McBride yet, you have a huge treat to look forward to, starting with his memoir of his mother, The Color of Water, to his newest just out, The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store. And of course anything by Amor Towles. Anne Patchet’s latest looks promising. Thanks for your book recs. I will look into them.

    1. I have such fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table with brown paper bags, scissors, tape, crayons, and markers. And a pile of books. I will look for those James McBride books. Thanks, Marcie.

  11. Am in the middle of Geraldine Brooks’ Horse…fascinating!
    I lost my Mum in 1995 when she was 71. It never matters their age..it’s still a huge loss to deal with.
    So enjoy your conversations.

  12. That September feeling has been elusive for me this year as well. I’m on the fence about returning to supply-teaching, and have booked off until Thanksgiving to continue mulling it over. I have continued to mask whenever I’m at school and have eventually become the only one doing so, which is beginning to feel like more of a burden. So that’s one factor amongst several that make it feel as if I’m drifting at the moment — the very antithesis of September’s usual energy!

    I’ve added some new books to my list at the library thanks to you and your commenters. I didn’t realize that the new Richard Osman was imminent, nor that there was a new instalment in the Matthew Venn series. And Dottoressa mentioned a new Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling soon to be published — I’m currently working my way through the most recent already-released one.

    Looking forward very much to hearing about Portugal! I hope that you’ll return home afterward basking in that September feeling, whatever the calendar may say.

    1. I can understand the sense of ambivalence about supply teaching. When one has been busy with family and career that feeling of drifting is uncomfortable, isn’t it? Good idea to book off to give yourself some space to decide. 🙂

  13. It’s a bit of an in-between time and you’ve had a tough summer. As the trip to Portugal gets closer, it will capture your attention more. The cooler weather will arrive and that usually brings a higher energy level. Soon, you will be caught up in the season.

    What a lovely green blouse! I’m looking forward to seeing how you pair it with other clothes.

    I’ve grabbed a couple of fall items, because I took a short work contract and actually go into the office sometimes. I haven’t done that in years. I rooted through my wardrobe for a couple of pairs of pants and bought a few new tops to go with them. Then, we had record high temperatures for my first days in the office. I quickly switched outfits, picking layers, so that I could remove some when I stepped outside.

    I’m trying to get back into exercise and being more careful about food. As much as I think of summer as an active time, the lack of routine had me being a bit lazier and eating too much wonderful summer food. Time to pay the price for that.

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I need to add them to my TBR list.

    Have fun planning your Portugal packing.

  14. Hi Sue, wishing you all the best for your upcoming trip. Take care of yourself and trust that things will be right. A new place might help shuffle things around.
    Your September is my January, in regards to school preparation. This time of year never really feels that significant to me because the changing from winter to spring is not so momentous here.
    Have just bought the latest Richard Osman. I like his natural, droll writing style. Take care xx

    1. Thanks, Genevieve. I will admit I am quite nervous about our trip. So is Hubby. We’re pacing ourselves in our preparations and hopefully once settled on that trans-Atlantic flight we’ll calm down.

  15. J’aime énormément votre blog ,qui allie la culture ,la mode et une certaine forme de complicité féminine . Dans le sud de la France les températures estivales ont été insupportables .J’avoue que cela m’a épuisée physiquement et moralement .Cette chaleur avait quelque chose d’étrange et d’angoissant .
    Je suis donc restée à la maison avec la climatisation .J’ai beaucoup lu . J’avais commandé des tonnes de livres . J’ai relu tous les ouvrages d’Annie Ernaux,le prix Nobel de littérature .
    Je déteste ….mais j’essaie d’analyser et de comprendre les raisons qui ont incité un jury a lui octroyer un prix aussi prestigieux .
    Quelle chance d’habiter le Canada . Je connais davantage le Québec parce qu’on y parle français . J’ai été invitée il y a bien longtemps a donner une série de conférence a Montréal sur Spinoza !
    Je repense parfois avec nostalgie a la rentrée scolaire , a cette excitation inquiète devant cette page blanche que représentait l’année à venir durant laquelle il fallait tout réécrire ..J’ai perdu ma mère depuis trente et cinq ans et son absence est encore un immense chagrin . Courage !
    J’espère que vous avez quelqu’un dans votre entourage avec qui partager vos souvenirs d’enfance.
    Fille unique ,j’ai la sensation d’être morte d’une certaine façon avec elle ,comme si ce qui n’est plus exprimé n’avait jamais existé .
    Le Portugal est un merveilleux pays a visiter .Le dépaysement sera complet ,je n’en doute pas .Nous avons fait dernièrement un séjour à Porto .Méfiez vous simplement des pièges a touristes , en privilégiant des restaurants plus éloignés des lieux connus . J’ai eu de merveilleuses surprises et d’extraordinaires rencontres en abandonnant les sentiers battus .
    Octobre est un excellent choix pour voyager en Europe du Sud .Les températures sont plus modérées et agréables. Et on peut profiter de tout avec un budget raisonnable .
    Vous trouverez des boutiques fabuleuses a Lisbonne ,
    Nous partons sur la côte basque en début de semaine prochaine ,Biarritz, Anglette ,Espelette ,Guétary, Bayonne …. La cuisine est intéressante si l’on aime le canard , le jambon cru et le poivron !
    Précédemment nous avons séjourné dans le Finistère et la baie de Morbihan.
    Et il y a 15 jours nous sommes partis dans le Jura chercher un peu de fraîcheur .
    Bon séjour dans notre vieille Europe !

    1. Extreme heat or extreme cold are perfect excuses for a day of reading… or a rainy day, or snowy…or sometimes I don’t even need an excuse. Ha. We are very much looking forward to our trip. Travel will take us away from our worries.

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