September BalanceSep 04, 2022
Photograph by Nadin Mario
While September is often associated with back-to-school, foliage, and crisper weather — for me it’s about something more nuanced — balance
September is such a time of push pull, leaning forward and reaching back — resistant to let summer slip through our fingers, yet excited about what new things lie ahead. It’s a time of change, of endings and beginnings — bye to lazy days of summer and hello back-to-school vibes. I know the transitions of seasons don’t come as easily for some…but personally I love September in all her flavors.
First off, for me it comes with a welcomed sigh of relief — another successful busy summer behind us. That’s taken on an even larger meaning these past years during all the ups and downs and turn arounds. There has been no ‘business as usual’, nothing to rely upon with certainty other than that which is in our own control.
Even through it all — the employee shortage, the world unrest, the skyrocketing of gas and food prices, the volatile economy, and the oppressively hot temperatures this summer with no rain — we made it. Actually…we more than ‘made it’, we thrived. And we celebrate another summer in the books!
For most, September is a time for ramping up, but for me it comes bearing gifts of reward…a time to celebrate, slow down, ease and take a deep breath.
It is a time to daydream and meander, to ruminate and appreciate. I’m so proud of my staff and their continued dedication and ingenuity to band together and just figure things out. And I’m so extremely grateful to all who pass through the café, from our regulars who literally walk through our door each day without even having to tell us their orders — to those who stumble upon us for the very first time. We are a community, a family of sorts — and that’s a lot to have gratitude for.
September is when I get to take that step back, take stock and really languish in it all from a fifty-thousand-foot view. It also evokes a sense of deep accomplishment and completion. Perhaps that has something to do with this transitional period in the natural world that coincides with it. The autumnal equinox is upon us (September 22, 2022) and brings with it a unique balance of sorts where the length of time for light and dark become the same. It stirs me to shift and balance other aspects of my life that may have gone ignored in all of this busyness — to pay attention.
This bridge from summer to fall is generally an exquisite time in the Catskill Mountains — days of blue skies and warm sunny temperatures paired with cool nights requiring an added layer. Like old friends the seasons walk side by side holding hands for the last time before parting. OK Fall, you take it from here.
Fall seemed to elbow her way in a bit earlier than usual. The lack of water prematurely turned leaves brown as summer foliage and grassy lawns shriveled from thirst. Even the pesky weeds in flower beds stopped growing. Streams, lakes and reservoirs dwindled and have begun to sink to alarming levels — and the wildlife, normally up in the mountains, are scurrying about in town looking for food. It’s not an uncommon sight to see deer or a mama bear and her cubs walking the streets. We’re all a little confused.
But I also trust in Mother Nature to recalibrate and balance (I’m certainly saying my prayers for her too).
Amidst all of this transition, the best part of September for me — that makes me feel like a kid before Christmas full of anticipation — is one of my favorite traditions: my post-season vacation to the beach. After the crowds have packed up and left, I spend a glorious week in Ocean City. It has become one of my very favorite things to do all year. The best part of this…beyond the morning walks along the boardwalk, the hours floating in the waves, deep breathing sea air, devouring books and decompressing — is the story of how this came together in the first place.
It all started here years ago in Woodstock during a conversation with a customer who grew into a dear friend. During a casual chat one day, I mentioned how I hadn’t been to the beach in twenty years. Not only had I not been there in two decades, True, my daughter had never seen the beach. You should’ve seen the look of shock on her face.
Without hesitation she just blurted out, “Well, there’s no tip for you today. Instead, I am gifting you our beach house (a gorgeous old house that once belonged to her grandmother, steeped in childhood memories and charm) for a week.” Then you should’ve seen my face! I felt like a giddy kid. That ‘tip’ has extended for nine years and counting. And each summer after I survive another season of frenetic energy and busyness, I get to make this pilgrimage to this house just two blocks from the ocean waves.
Seasons and traditions mean something different to each of us, but I encourage you to make time to replenish and rejuvenate — to make memories and create traditions of your own — to find balance.
And as a result of this gorgeous gesture of generosity, it has trickled into becoming a new tradition for the café. I close the restaurant so my staff can do the same. I half-jokingly say, “We are closed for spiritual maintenance.” But we really are.
March to the beat of your own drum. Maybe like me, you rest when others ramp up…just make sure to find time to rest. Anyway, I’ve got to go pack my dozens of books, sun hat, favorite foods, tarot cards and bathing suits. It’s time to rest, read, swim…repeat.
Oh, September how I love you!
—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock