Raining cats and dogs | Toulouse, France

It rained the proverbial cats and dogs in Toulouse, but in fact the only thing falling from the clouds was – disappointingly, although rather not surprisingly, water drops. The skies did not open up to shower us, as advertised,…

… with neither a rainfall of candy…

… nor of birds.

Now that I think about it, though, a possible explanation for my disappointment may be that I simply didn’t stand in the indicated spots long enough to witness the promised candy or birds falling from the sky. At any rate, it wouldn’t have been the first time that happened.

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Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain | Montpellier, France

I came across a tourist brochure advertising Montpellier’s charms, which claimed that the region boasts, on average, a total of 340 sunny days per year.

So, it seems that I have caught exactly those 25 other days, the ones that went unmentioned, the ones tourist brochures would gloss over conveniently. Because, let’s see (making a quick calculation in my head)… yup, for just over three weeks now, the skies have been almost constantly overcast, dark and cloudy and rain has been pouring out of them pretty much incessantly.

In addition to making it hard to believe in the promises of eternal sunshine and be enraptured by the alleged charms of southern France, the constant rain and clouds also take away the pleasure of walking through autumn leaves – when they are soggy, they no longer rustle.

On a more practical level, though, constant rain makes for wet feet, causes me to miss open-air farmers’ markets, results in the interruption of the running of trams and poses a danger of flooding. (On the bright side, though, it meant that I just had to buy a cute polka-dotted raincoat from the kids’ section.)

But I am a firm believer in statistics. (That, and whatever information is advertised in tourist brochures.) So, relying on those, as well as the visible, albeit slight, opening up of the skies, it actually looks like the gloomy and wet spell is now coming to an end and the sun will finally come out. Let those 340 days of sunshine begin!

In between | Istanbul, Turkey

As September turned into October, in the span of 20 hours, I traveled from the East to the West and then back to the East: across seasons, months, continents and languages. Flew over Sofia twice. Passed through Istanbul once. Waited and exited. Waited and entered. And now I am here.

Happy October! | Sofia, Bulgaria

After a brief, but powerful appearance at the beginning of September, which was thankfully cut short by several weeks of Indian summer, it seems that autumn is finally here to stay…

… or, at least, until it is replaced by winter. brrrrrrrr….

Time to bring out the knee-high boots, the wool scarves and the warm hats. The novelty and excitement of wearing them, after four months of summer, wear out pretty quickly. Staying warm doesn’t.

September, not spring, is the new beginning | Sofia, Bulgaria

This year, fall came suddenly to Sofia. And I was once again reminded of my feelings for September – a very different kind from the high-strung expectancy of spring, the careless euphoria of summer or the pure glee of the first snow in the winter.

I thought I was quite alone in noticing, even quietly celebrating, the usually unremarkable (and unremarked) September, but I just came across this article, which conveys my feelings for the month so well that I wish I could have written it, though I obviously lack the articulate and eloquent language and the references to British pop culture and lifestyle.

As summer turned to fall overnight a few days ago, I woke up with the familiar feeling that September brings with it every year: an expectation of new beginnings, an anticipation of what the article’s author so gracefully calls “the delicious melancholy of autumn.”

He describes September as a “strangely neglected month, seldom sung, not really noticed until suddenly, one day, as with that one girl in the corner, you realize that you are in the presence of beauty and wonder why you’d never noticed.”

I remember being stunned the first time I experienced the beauty of September consciously. After having lived for five years in Kuwait – where there are no seasons to speak of and the months of the year are divided into unbearably hot and pleasantly warm, I went to university in the American Midwest.

After the first couple of weeks, in which summer gradually wound down, fall came with full force and the campus turned into the stuff of American liberal arts schools’ brochures. (I even have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons why I decided to go to Macalester was because its brochures featured an autumn maple leaf.) The trees turned all imaginable and unimaginable shades of yellow, orange, red and brown, and, in the four consecutive autumns of being there, I never did manage to get enough of walking through the fallen leaves on the ground, rustling underneath my feet.

Eight years later, it is still a quiet kind of delight.

“September, not spring, is the new beginning,” the article says, pointing to how this sentiment could be connected to going to school and the fact that every new academic year begins in September. Even though it’s now been six years since I’ve been out of school, I feel that, come September, the anticipation of new beginnings arises.

Many of my important relationships have started in September too, which was, of course, initially connected to the beginning of the school year, when I would meet new people, but then continued as somewhat of a tendency, in spite of my life no longer being tied to the academic calendar.

In September, I find myself able to pursue new projects, ideas and relationships with a calm, serenity and a drive that the restlessness of spring, the languidness of summer and the depression of winter make impossible.

I also quite enjoy the in-betweenness – between summer and winter, between hot and cold, between vacation and work, between travelling and standing still, which always seems to take place in September.

“September,” as the article’s author writes, “is far enough away from anything momentous that it can exercise a peaceful self-containment.” And it is this self-containment, perhaps, that allows for momentous things to happen. Though not on any official calendar, my personal history is filled with many milestones that took place in September.

“If there was ever a month you could fall in love with, it’s September. And like real beauty, September wears her glories subtly. To appreciate her (and if ever there were a female month, it’s September) it’s necessary to gaze directly, with a new eye.”

I just went out in the rain to take some pictures. And, once again, I fell in love.