Outside Eye: Turn the page . . .

Here we go.


It is New Year in Armenia today. Nine months earlier the calendar turned, but September 1, or 2, or 3 is really when change happens here.


In the air. In attitudes. In emotions.

On January 1 we wake – hung over and cold – to the same day we left behind us in the long night before. The sky is still winter gray and nothing invites us to live fresh, but only to hunker, to brace, to face the days with firm jaws and layers of resistance. January is a test of will. September is a challenge of spirit, a call.

The calenderial New Year (yes, I just made that word up) finds us under the weight of 13 days of indulgence. Women need spring just to recover from the burden of tables they have weighted and waited, and the obligation – albeit a happy one – of greeting guests. And greeting guests. And greeting guests . . .

But the run-up to September’s New Year brings no such toil. It is preceded by a month of general languor -- a month during which rest is time for optimistic projection. This autumn will be about rebirth despite Nature’s insistence on approaching days of falling leaves and of falling temperatures. That’s the idea, anyway.

Back from extended rest, under our sun-tanned skulls throb rested and sober brains and resolved minds. We will get up earlier. We will study harder, we will work more diligently . . . We’ve only got 3 months until hibernation, so let’s sprint!

Now the long pants come out; the white shirts get ironed. On this day there is a palpable something in the atmosphere. People walk faster. Girls who have, probably, seen each other every day for the past month, hug each other tighter today, giggling under new hairdos and new hair colors -- which, by the way, will be new again next Monday -- where, here, cosmetology has evolved beyond hygiene or science to practically a competitive sport.

For parents hand-holding six-year-olds on their first steps toward never being babies again, the big ones will get misty over how grown-up the little ones have become. For the rest of us, it will seem that first-graders get littler every year. Or maybe the bookbags just get bigger.

Buses will be more crowded than in the past month. Car horns will be more obnoxious. Street police will be more visible – sort of walking traffic cones, reminding by their presence that we are back to business, back to school. Back.

Goodbye tourists. Now it’s just us.

For some, it is “Okay. Here we go” – all smiley faces and !!!! For others it is: “Oh well. Here we go. Again.” :(

For all: We say goodbye to summer, and even if the temperature doesn’t change, September air somehow hugs us where the August air had choked. Walking in the shade is more comfortable than walking in the sun, but soon enough that will change. And while the season of apricots has expired and the season of peaches will soon dwindle, tomatoes are yet only about a quarter for a kilo, and grapes that were blessed in August, now bless us by their replacement of out-going melons and plumbs and the bounty of what has been a remarkable Armenian summer harvest.

If the Bible got it right, saying that to everything there is a season, we may add today in Armenia that there is everything to this season of re-beginning and the end of ending.

First Bell has rung, calling boxers from our corners.

Here we go.