Over the past few days, I’ve been working hard to gain control of my ever-exploding inbox, which is in even worse shape than usual because somewhere around mid-September I fell behind on the dozens (seriously) of email newsletters I subscribe to. I love reading all these newsletters, which regularly lead me to interesting links that I wouldn’t have found on my own, but if I don’t stay on top of them, my inbox situation can get overwhelming in just a day or two. So for several evenings in a row, I’ve spent a few hours just reading, clicking, and deleting. I’m now down to 26 messages in my inbox and no longer feel a sense of panic every time I open Gmail.
The latest edition of freelance journalist Rosie Spinks’s newsletter included a link to her musings on the French tradition of la rentrée, a post-August-vacation reorganization and restart. It’s a time, she argues, for new beginnings and new resolutions. As Spinks writes,
Thinking about it, it seems that autumn is a much more fitting reset point on the calendar than January, when it [is] simply too cold to be optimistic about anything and we are all exhausted from the forced indulgence that is Christmas. In September, with a (hopefully) restful August behind us, we can enter the last quarter of the year with a vigour and resolve to do things a little differently, be it our goals, habits, or even our wardrobe.
I agree one hundred percent, though my personal version of la rentrée comes a bit later. Early fall is my favorite time of the year. (One of the many reasons Southern California and I weren’t destined for a long-term relationship.) The brisk, sunny days at the end of September and beginning of October invigorate me and fill me with the urge to clean, organize, plan, and accomplish. I relish leaving my bedroom window cracked open at night, just enough to feel a nip in the air as I fall asleep and hear the honks of Canadian geese as I wake up. I become uncharacteristically outdoorsy, favoring long walks over my usual yoga classes for exercise. I can finally pull out my hand-knits and start wearing them again. We’ve maybe taken the pumpkin spice thing a little too far, but this is the season of my favorite fruits and vegetables: hearty squashes, crunchy apples, earthy beets.
It’s probably not a coincidence that I feel this urge to organize and reset things just as my birthday approaches in mid-October. It’s a natural desire, I think, to imagine that if we just get “caught up,” we can start a new year of our lives with a clean slate. Of course, there’s no actual “caught up;” emails keep arriving, life keeps happening, and to-do lists are never really finished. Still, it’s an attractive idea, and the confluence of perfect weather and an approaching birthday means that year after year, the arrival of fall prompts me to take a hard look at things and figure out where I stand.
So now that I have a name for it, I’m embracing la rentrée in October. Because if you ask me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year to start fresh.