“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have always thought that fall seems more like the beginning of the year than January. When the mornings turn cooler and the fog lingers a bit later in the day, I get excited. Like something is about to happen.

I love summer’s warmth and sunshine, wearing light clothing and the feeling of my feet in sandals. But when we begin to turn the corner toward fall and I start dragging out sweaters and soup recipes, I surprise myself with how ready I am for the new season.

We returned last week from a short trip to the San Juan Islands on our sailboat. The anchorages, normally filled with the sounds of kids swimming and playing on the beaches were quiet. Spots for boats were taken by those of us who don’t have to return to the city for school deadlines.

September is the month when vacations end and we get back to the business of life be it school, work or those projects we have been saving for a rainy day. Walking by Coe School on Queen Anne, I find it hard to believe how many years have passed since my children played there during recess. The sounds of the kids bring it all back like it was just last week.

Now that I don’t have lunches to make, homework to help with, packets of papers to fill out for the teachers and a job to run to after dropping kids off at school, fall has become a reflective time for me. A time to walk and smell the rich scent of leaves and damp dirt turning into mulch. To watch as flocks of birds take to the sky for their long journey south. To think about all the love I have in my life.

Fall was my father’s favorite season. He often quoted Keats’ Ode to Autumn, challenging us to name the author.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; close bosomed friend of the maturing sun,” he’d recite, asking, “Who wrote that?” To me he’d always add with a twinkle in his eye, “my English major.”

I miss him acutely in the fall, but I in some ways he feels closer than during the other times of year. This was his special season. I can still hear his voice asking if I wanted to take a walk with him, or share a cup of Earl Grey tea, or, later in my life, a glass of scotch. This season is the time I get to spend with his memory and to live the moments we would have shared were he still here. And appreciate them nonetheless.

As the season moves toward winter, we will tuck the earth into her bed for the long winter sleep and come January — the calendar’s new year — deep down under ground, the seeds will begin their transformation to new life.

If you can, take some time to enjoy the beauty. When the sun is out, head over to Discovery Park, or to one of the many lookouts on Queen Anne and Magnolia. See how the sun slants in golden loveliness and feel the chill air on your face.

Before you know it, the holidays will be here. Then the long, cold winter. Maybe a snowstorm or two. And then, in what seems like a flash, the crocuses will pop their pastel heads through the ground and we will be back to what we have just left behind.

Enjoy every minute. It’s all connected. It’s all beautiful. And it’s all a gift.

IRENE PANKE HOPKINS is a freelance writer and essayist. She lived on Queen Anne for 20 years and now lives on a sailboat in Ballard.