What Happens When I Come Up For Air After Writing A Dissertation

A little over a week ago, I disappeared into an indoor hole called “I Must Finish My Dissertation”, and outside, it began to rain.

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It rained for most of the following week, but I didn’t care because I was one with my computer, attempting to craft a final product of 12000-15000 words that would allow me to pass my course and get the Master’s degree for which I moved to England.

I turned in the dissertation on Friday (hurray!!), and outside, the rain finally ended, the clouds cleared away, and the sun appeared again.  (I’m not making this up.  The weather was beautifully in sync with my schedule.)

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The sun has been shining ever since, and yesterday I looked around and realised that it is no longer summer.

Background Information (because I like to have – and provide – context):  Noelle has long believed that I am the Tree Whisperer because of an incident which happened years ago while we were flatmates in Minnesota.  She came home from work one sunny day early in September – around this time of year – and said something to the effect of: “Christine, aren’t you excited for fall?  The trees are going to change colour any day now!”

I glanced at the trees out the window and said, quite seriously, “Not yet.  I give them about three more weeks.”

She didn’t fully believe me . . . but three weeks later, almost to the day, she came home from work and said, “I saw a tree starting to turn colours today.  My first one of the season.  How did you do that??”

I still don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew that I knew that the trees needed a few more weeks before they would start to turn those glorious shades of red and orange for the autumn.  They say that American government agents are trained to recognise counterfeit money by studying real money.  It may not be exactly the same thing, but I think that I have spent so much time watching the natural world around me that I can now recognise when a season is in counterfeit mode.  The calendar may still say summer, but the world around me doesn’t believe it anymore.

And the other day, I walked outside, looked up at the sky, and suddenly realised that sometime during that week of clouds and rain and dissertations, England switched from summer to autumn.  The weather is still warm(ish), and the trees are still green, and perhaps I’m the only one who feels the change, but my internal changing-of-the-seasons radar is whispering, “It won’t be long now.  Autumn is almost here…”


And this makes me happy, because for me, autumn is a season of new beginnings.  Maybe it’s because my life has revolved around school years and term times for so long, or maybe it’s because American football is an autumn sport (Go Big Red), or maybe it’s because for a few fabulous weeks, the world flares up in a glory of red, orange, yellow, and the bluest blue sky you’ve ever seen, enough to satisfy even a colour-lover like me.  Whatever the reason, autumn holds for me a world of possibilities.  And this year is no different.

Last year, I arrived in England wide-eyed with wonder and excitement and with absolutely no idea what the next year would bring.

Today, I’m a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser about the differences between life in America and life in the UK, but each time I go outside and feel the whispers of autumn in the air, I still smile with wonder and excitement.  And with absolutely no idea what the next year will bring.  But autumn is coming, and I am content.

(To all of my American friends celebrating Labor Day and the official final weekend of the American summer season today, sorrynotsorry for reminding you that it’s almost over!)

2 thoughts on “What Happens When I Come Up For Air After Writing A Dissertation

  1. I’m soooo excited summer is almost over. Fall might be my favorite season (and I’m ecstatic to be back in MN to truly experience it again). Congrats on finishing your work! That’s HUGE!!!


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