Fall has fully descended on Washington, DC, and it’s already my second autumn this year. I never used to be a fan of this time of year because it meant that colder winter was coming on and school was starting up again. Yet in the last few years of living in New England I truly began to appreciate the foliage and chill of the season. It’s not as intense here in the mid-Atlantic, but I can see out my window that the trees are starting change colors. We went through about three miserable weeks here, with the sun coming out sporadically throughout that entire period, but now we’re enjoining some clear days again, and if it weren’t for the calendar it would feel like it’s spring.
However, my perception of the seasons has forever been changed. After living in South America for the last three years, I can’t help but think that my friends in Argentina are now doing spring cleaning and getting ready for the warmer days ahead. It’s sad to think that I’ll miss out on the spring in Buenos Aires, which is a spectacular time of years for more reasons than might be obvious. The city comes alive again after a downer of a winter, and possibilities abound.
Lately, whenever I get the chance I think back on time spent abroad in Ecuador and Argentina. But I’ve also been thinking about trips taken to Chile and Bolivia, for example. Those little moments spent in the back of a car or looking out the window in silence. Hours in an airport terminal wasted, used for internal reflection and iPod alone time. Life has gotten a lot busier now, and it’s romantic to look back on those days not as time wasted, but time well spent.
When I lived in Spain we took a trip to the province of Extremadura, where we took an all day hike through the mountains to some ancient town with a medieval monastery-turned hotel where we stayed. After settling, we went for a short walk around the village the next day during the siesta. The town was completely deserted and as we explored the streets, we saw a fork in the road where the left created a steep hill, the right staying level. The effect was that if you got a good running start, you would be able to run up along the wall and stay upright for a few steps before gravity took you down. My friend Dave ran up it just as an old man walked by, and for a second I thought he might scold us. Instead, a huge smile broke across his face and he laughed giddily as he said, “I used to do that when I was a kid too.” We exchanged nods and went separate ways.
I wonder if one day in the future I’ll have the pleasure of saying something similar to some kids who are traveling through my village. “I used to listen to my iPod and look bored at airports too,” or “I used to backpack around the globe,” etc. Bah, I’ll get back out there soon enough.