I love the fall. The leaves are gorgeous, the weather is nice for walking or working outside. This is my first September in 50  years that I haven’t been in school and I’m loving it.

I was able to drive my mom to a doctor’s appointment yesterday. I like having the opportunity to do that as well.

As we drove along, we got talking about some of my childhood memories and family members who had passed on. It was interesting to learn things about past generations and to have little questions I had about half-forgotten moments explained.

I came away from our conversation feeling blessed to have descended from strong, kind and resourceful women and caring, hard-working men. Genetically and environmentally, I was provided with all the guts and determination I needed to do whatever I chose to do. But I also received the ability to feel compassion and generosity.

The rest is up to me!

 

 

One of the things people seem determined to do when newly retired is to purge. Not oneself, necessarily, but certainly one’s home. For me, the urge to simplify, tidy and sort is almost as strong as when I was pregnant and went through the nesting stage.

I try to pace myself. I pick a closet, a shelf, a desk – one cluttered place – and I tackle that one. (My husband and I are “savers” so there are lots of places where things get tucked away.)

It feels good to reduce the clutter. Not having boxes falling out of closets or piles of papers oozing out of drawers lifts the spirit.

There is a down-side though. As I sort through the detritus, I come to letters from people I loved who have passed on. I pour over old photos and birthday greetings. It is bitter-sweet to be reminded in such a tangible way of people and pets who are dear and departed.

Those mementos find a nook. Yes, it is sentimental. However, they are a big part of who I am, and for now, I still need them.

 

 

 

Travel in September had not been a possibility for me since I was five years old. I have been in school as a student or a teacher for 50 years. (In the justice system, that would make me a lifer, wouldn’t it?)

So on this very first September of my retirement, I decided to celebrate by going on a trip. My husband and I found pet sitters for our various animals and ventured off to Scotland.

It was an amazing vacation! We spent time on the isle of Arran, the isle of Skye and in the highlands.

The weather tended to be changeable. One B&B hostess told us, “You get all four seasons in Scotland – sometimes in the same day.” We certainly found this to be true. On a couple of days, we had rain, cloudy periods, sunshine and hail.

The weather didn’t stop us from doing the things we wanted to do though, and for the most part, the rain co-operated and we stayed dry.

We found the folks to be very friendly and accommodating and I loved listening to the Scottish burr.

We visited stone circles and hiked to great waterfalls. We explored castles and viaducts. We visited a reindeer herd and hand-fed them. We sat by Loch Ness, and I did see something rise to the surface and dive again! We saw jaw-dropping scenery – mountains and coastal cliffs. They were rugged and magnificent.

Mackrie Moor stone circles, Arran

Urquart Castle, Loch Ness

Duncansby Head, Highlands

Kilt Rock Falls, Skye

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Highlands (Harry Potter fans might recognize this!)

Feeding reindeer, Cairngorm Mountains

I went pony trekking. I galloped on a Firth of Moray beach and rode by a fairytale castle.

On the way home, we had a 24 hour stopover in Iceland. It is a wild and beautiful country. I went pony trekking again and enjoyed tolting on the marshes, surrounded by craggy mountains and hot water spring fed rivers.

We took a drive around the southwest coast. Waves crashed against craigy shorelines. We drove through huge lava fields that resembled moonscapes. Steam rose out of the ground in places. We saw herds of Icelandic horses and flocks of Icelandic sheep.

Icelandic sheep

meeting Fleygur – “Flying Horse”

Tolting

Bridge between the Continents

We walked across the Bridge between the Continents. The fault line between the North American tectonic plate and the European plate crosses Iceland, and in one place along the rift, they built a bridge. The rift is separating at the rate of about 2 cm a year.

This was definitely an unforgetable celebration!