Well, that's it, isn't it? Summer's over.
And winter, of course, is coming. I've felt the frost already, and if you squint into the slate-grey skies, you can nearly see the snow. Hell, if the supermarkets are to be believed, it's a fine time to start thinking about Christmas.
But let's not get quite so far ahead of ourselves!
Let's lament the end of the summer before we start celebrating the beginning of winter.
'Twas a mean season for me, I suppose. I had hoped to take a few weeks away from work over the holidays, but other factors intruded: a death in the family, changing obligations, sudden monetary troubles and so on. All the while the kiddies kept coming in, so I kept showing up to the education centre I teach English at.
As it stands, the plan is to steal off somewhere warm as soon as humanly possible - more on that as the story develops - but I'm running on empty at the moment. Have been since I got back from America in March: coming back from a life-changing experience only to have life kick in immediately will do that, I know now.
It hasn't, however, been doom and gloom all day and night in my little corner of Scotland. The rare sunny days we've had hereabouts have been a huge highlight, because earlier in 2012, I got myself a hobby: I decided the time had come to turn the rampant wilderness I called my back yard into a proper goddamn garden.
Well, it isn't perfect yet - and I don't imagine I'll be able to do much more with it till next spring - but six months of back-breaking, at times bloody labour later, I've got a lawn, a rock garden, and a pretty paved path between the two. A pretty paved path that proved the perfect place to drop a pair of camping chairs and improvise a table.
I have many happy memories of afternoons in my brand new garden this summer. Yes, the weather could have been better, but often enough there was some sun, and whenever there was, I took out my book, and I read.
And I read and I read and I read!
This became rather a habit. A ritual, if you will — which brings me to my point.
Now that I can't go out there, under pain of mild frostbite or a simple soaking, I've had to say goodbye to the garden for the time being. That I can live with. What I've having more trouble overcoming is the loss of the spot I spoke of, where I spent, shall we say, some serious time reading.
I'm a creature of habit, I confess. Most of what I read, I read in bed, immediately before nodding off. I did this all through the summer, in addition to which I had a couple of hours every couple of days with my book in the back yard. Absent that, it's back to burning the midnight oil until some replacement pattern arises, so my reading, recently, has dropped off dramatically.
How I miss my afternoons in the garden! :(
On the bright side, this got me thinking. Am I just an oddity, or do we all have specific spots where we get the bulk of our bookworming done? Places where we can go, or things that we do, to get away from it all, you know?
With so many other things competing for our attention, reading for a protracted period - for me at least - isn't easy these days. Without my camping chair in the garden, I'm having trouble getting through more than a book a week.
So I want to know: what are your reading rituals?
Inspire me, people, please!