It's a curious accident of history that, for some obscure reason, years in some contexts start in September, or April. In the period of my historical writing, I read once that new year was really March (or April, I can't find the reference), and the notion that the new year started in January is a modern one imposed backwards on history. But I can't figure out where I saw it, so I can't check it, and I can't critique its accuracy because no one else seems that bothered, at least not in the books I've read.
September seems like an odd choice for a new year. It comes at the end of the summer, when you can't help but be reminded daily of the transience of things, particularly where I live. Trees are a good marker, offering up their changing appearance as a sort of barometer of the end of the growing season. Thought of that way, I suppose, it's a bit less grim than thinking of the end of another summer and the descent into early darkness and cold. Thought of another way, seeing September as the beginning of the academic year, bringing with it new challenges, in some cases new settings or schools, can at least soften the blow. As I have written before, some people seem to attach deep significance to the yearly cycle, investing particular dates with great importance, and I think I am one of those people. There will be days where I can think of nothing other than what happened on that date in some previous year, even though the physics of the situation means it was never quite exactly a multiple of anything concrete ago. The strange thing about this is that the date, whatever the significance of it, cannot in itself be harmful. It is the prompting of the memories that the date brings, and those memories can be everything from happy, affirming ones to the most devastating and difficult. For some reason, the autumn seems to have piled together a great number of these significant days for me, although regular readers will be aware of the significance of February in my year. I have listened to American Pie just recently, and hadn't previously noticed that February was the month that made Don McLean shiver.
What do all these reflections mean? I don't really know myself, but I will say that the shift in how I think over probably the last four-and-a-half years has been significant. That is to say that I have changed from basically being able to ignore my own thoughts, to being swallowed by them entirely, to now being a little more able to let the thoughts pass without following them into a very difficult and dark place. Some people reading this will know about my history of depression and anxiety, something which might not be apparent to those who meet me in person. Writing about how I have felt, and how I feel now, has always had a sort of unburdening quality to it, but I have noticed a change in my attitude. I'm less inclined to write in detail about myself and my changing mental health, and those matters that I suppose influence it, at least in the discursive mode that appears on this blog. I've been turning those feelings into short bursts of narrative, and although it would be wrong to call them fiction (as so much of it is the truth), at least some of it would pass as fiction if I showed it to someone who didn't already know the stories. Some of it just isn't ready for airing in public (and some of it may never be), but I hope over the course of this autumn, as well as finishing the fourth book of These Matters, to put some energy into it. I would be delighted to manage either, of course, but the flashes require just that bit less organisation!
Kate: With hope. Love should end with hope. My husband, God rest him, told me something I'll never forget.
[in a letter]
Kate: Hope guides me. It is what gets me through the day and especially the night. The hope that after you're gone from my sight it will not be the last time I look upon you.
And yes, that is from A Knight's Tale.
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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought