It's not the onset of autumn I dread so much as that of winter. It's still some time away, luckily, but I'm really not looking forward to the January-March time frame, which I regard as being totally depressing and blah. Mostly because of the afore-mentioned combination of wind, rain and grey skies.
Unless it's a good old-fashioned, rich in snow and ice and brilliant blue skies kind of winter - those I positively enjoy. There's nothing quite as exhilarating as going skating with your friends and drinking endless cups of hot chocolate along the route; and the Netherlands can be a beautiful country when everything is white and cold and ice-encrusted! But unfortunately we don't often get winters like that...
I got a bit of a shock the other day. Nils (who is my closest male friend) called and blithely announced that he had been out of work for the last 3 months. The news didn't come as a complete surprise: I knew his company had been having some problems lately, but when he last swung by in February, Nils was confident he could still turn things around and they'd be OK (it was his own company and he had several people working for him - he feels worse for them than for himself at the moment). So it wasn't the fact that unfortunately, he'd gone under that bothered me so much as the fact that he hadn't managed to find another job in the meantime. Nils has never been idle before. He's multi-talented, highly qualified in all kinds of fields, and a damn good manager/salesman.
Of course, we are dealing with an economic crisis at the moment. Companies are letting people go in their hundreds, thousands even; and for the past year, within the company I work for, we've had to contend with drastic re-organisations as well, losing 3500 people world-wide. I'm currently doing the work of three people, because the other two have been given the sack - but somehow, I never thought it would be this bad; that someone who had never been inactive through no fault of his own could be forced to stay at home and potter about in the garden a bit (which is what Nils explained he had been doing, minding his 2 year old and laying turf). He told me he applied for jobs left, right and centre, but rarely even got invited to an interview - and when he was, he was offered ridiculously low salaries. His tale of woe made me thankful I still have my job, even if I hate it every now and again.
Anyway, we made plans to spend another weekend and potter about in his garden together soon, and even if what he told me was essentially bad news, he still sounded cheerful and optimistic enough. He's very like me in that respect - nothing ever gets him down for long!
Actually, he's a lot like me. It's the first thing his then girlfriend noticed about the two of us when we first met in Egypt 4 years ago; that we were exactly the same in our actions/reactions, behaviour, sense of humour, and even mannerisms, like our way of talking or gesticulating. We often make the same comment or observation at the same time, and usually have no problem completing each other's sentences. It's like a constant round of snap, and it's no wonder she dubbed us 'the twins' only hours into our acquaintance. Her words were truer than she at first believed, because we found out later that we had been born only hours apart, with Nils being only ever so slightly my junior.