Editor's Viewpoint: Gearing up for tough challenges ahead
This week marks the end of the main holiday season, and even though the recent weather has been gloriously mellow, it is time to change gear for the sterner challenges of autumn.
For schoolchildren these include the beginning of another academic year. For the very young, and their parents, this is a specially poignant period.
Leaving the familiarity of home surroundings and going to school for the first time is a milestone for every family.
This is not only an adventure for all concerned, but also the start of an educational journey of a lifetime. Formal education may begin and end in the atmosphere of schools, and later in the institutions of higher education.
In a real sense, however, the toughest and surest teaching of all comes from the "university of life."
While individuals and families face their own educational and other challenges, it is also a period when social activities begin to adapt themselves to the approach of shorter days.
Many thousands will renew membership of clubs and societies which make up so much of the fabric and the friendship of society in our wider community, while others will seek fulfilment in new evening pastimes and recreations.
Sporting events also change pace from the summer months to autumn and winter endeavours, but the joy of competing ought remain paramount - especially in a world where the desire to win at all costs threatens the essence of sport itself.
In the wider world, this is also a time of serious political and financial challenges, after what has been a far-too-long summer holiday for our politicians. They now need to keep a steady nerve and to work together closely to protect the best interest of all the people in a period of cutbacks.
This is all for the future, but in the meantime, there is still an opportunity this weekend to enjoy what is left of our "Indian summer", and to explore the great beauty and outward pursuits in our province. Whatever the season, these will never change.