I woke up the other morning, conscious of the chill in the air as I brushed my teeth and readied my morning cup of coffee. The floorboards were cold beneath my bare feet and I wondered if I should turn up the settings on the furnace, since we can't give Lou, our year-old yellow Lab, a blanket because he will literally eat it.
I stepped outside, car keys in hand, and took what I believe was the first breath of crisp, fall air. The breeze had that chilly smell to it, the one that clearly tells us, even as we purposely keep our eyes away from the changing leaves that yes, fall is finally here.
It was a sad realization. It's almost October, the 10th month of this 12-month year we all live in. It's almost the time of pumpkins and corn mazes, and tricks or treats.
What happened to this year?
But, that seems to be the question that crosses my mind all too often lately. My husband once told me of an article he read that highlighted a study about the perception of time.
The study said the larger your experience base is, the more seasons you see, the faster seasons seem to go.
What a cruel irony.
As youngsters, we all wish we were older so we could drive our own cars, date whoever we wanted, find our own ways in the world.
And as we do those things, we find ourselves wishing the exact opposite, that we could slow time down as our kids grow up and our hair turns gray.
Fall seems to do that in a sense. People often talk about the lazy days of summer, but with so much to do - hiking, biking, swimming, gardening - summer is one of the busiest times of year in this town.
Fall, on the other hand, is a chance to slow down and take stock. It is a time of change, of stunning beauty in the natural world, school books and homework during the week and gloved hands cupped around a mug of warm apple cider on the weekend.
So fall, this season of change, seemed like the perfect time to orchestrate a little change of my own.
I recently had the vast majority of my hair cut off, donating it to Locks for Love.
It's something I did for the first time last year, and felt I would like to continue throughout my life.
So, I let it grow for an entire year - a few months longer than that even. I kept putting off getting it cut, even though it was driving me nuts, because I was worried. I wanted to cut it short. Like really short, but I was nervous I wouldn't be able to pull it off.
So instead of cutting it in June, like I did last year, I waited until halfway through September.
I don't know what I was waiting for.
Going from hair past your shoulders to hair that doesn't even reach the bottom of your ears is a pretty amazing feeling.
It's much lighter. And I'll probably save a bundle in shampoo.
This is the second year of the tradition. It will probably always feel weird to send my own hair through the mail, but I think this is one tradition I'll keep.
In this season of change, my hair can serve as a reminder of the year that's gone by, along with the yellow, red and orange leaves that fall quietly to the ground.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org