It’s Autumn. School is officially back in session and the air is as fresh as it can be. The kids are already starting on class projects, are signed up to a gazillion after-school activities (drama, swimming, ballet, karate, gymnastics, piano, guitar, Lego club – oh my!) and order has been restored in my house (I’ve even resorted to ironing at midnight). Their schoolbags are even fully stocked in the hopes they’ll start the academic year on the right track (pencil cases complete with 10 pencils, sharpened to perfection, and I’ve searched high and low for new healthy lunch ideas on Pinterest). Yes, I’m excited, but not just for them.
Since I was a child, I’ve always looked forward to this time of year, when summer drifts behind me and evenings close in. When everything in my wardrobe smells new (or at least freshly dry cleaned). And my brain awakes and is miraculously ready for action overnight.
I still think of my year as beginning in September, on a downward slope to Christmas, then wrapping round the winter months into spring and summer, ending at the end of August – that’s how I visualise my calendar, long after I’ve finished with school terms.
The last two weeks before the first of September still bring me back to the days when I returned home from summer camp, washed and packed away my shorts and T-shirts, and headed to the shops with my mother for back to school clothes (no uniforms for me – I grew up in the US; one of the reasons my kids attend an Educate Together school, so I can still go “school shopping” with them).
My own back to school uniform also takes shape. I look forward to replacing my worn-out summer flats with smart brogues, loafers and ankle boots. Sheer fabrics make way for light knits and pleated trousers. And – oh yes – I’m finally allowed to wear my tights again. Maybe this year I’ll spring for a new winter coat. And dare to go a shade darker and a few inches shorter at the hairdressers. It is a month of new, after all.
I even got married in September. How’s that for starting new things? And why not? The weather in Ireland is as consistent as it will ever be this time of year. How can anyone be blue when the sun starts to sit in the middle of the sky like it does? The trees are still filled with leaves, only just beginning to shake. Gone are the picnicky salads and lemonades and we begin to embrace comfort foods once again, if only at an introductory pace.
As the evenings begin to grow more realistic, children grow to love their beds once again. The green outside my house still enjoys the sounds of children playing into the evening, but grows quiet at a more reasonable hour as the dinner bell rings.
And as the entire family begin to make new resolutions for this back to routine month, things begin to finally get accomplished – old clothes covered in suncream and grass stains get recycled, bedtimes get brought back to normal, grown-ups scale back their wine-sipping, books are finally being read, and everyone is just that little bit more sensible, inspired, and energetic. If only it would last beyond Halloween.
Photograph from Rebecca Winward’s new tome, Everything in its Place (Ryland Peters & Small, approx €25.99, out now), which is full of inspiration to get your workspace – and every other area of the home – organised for the new season ahead.