I’ve written elsewhere about the difficulty of living in the south when fall comes around. Or, rather,when fall should come around. When my friends back in Michigan are talking about the cute boots and sweaters and tweed skirts they’re picking up, I’m still sitting around, sweating through my tank top. This is not a complaint, I swear. I mean, when y’all are shivering in your Triple Fat Goose coats around the fire this Christmas, I’ll be slipping on a little cardigan to take the dogs for a walk in my flip flops. It all evens out.

Still, when I went swimming yesterday (which I still love so very, very much) and actually shivered as I stripped down to my bathing suit before jumping into the outdoor pool, I could hardly contain my glee. I love summer — I love the sunshine and I love sandals and I love pulling a cold beer out of the cooler and feeling the icy water drip down my arm. But enough is enough. I’m done. I want to wear a scarf without burning myself alive, dammit.

We’re not there yet, but it’s close. I can sleep with a window open and the room gets good and chilly. I can walk a few miles without my sunglasses fogging up. I don’t need long sleeves during the day, but full pants at night is starting to have serious appeal. This makes me happier than you know.

And I need the happy. A number of people very, very dear to my heart are going through incredibly difficult times. None of their stories are mine to tell, so please don’t ask for specifics, but when my friends feel pain, I try to carry my share of the load. I know everybody has their problems, but if you have some spare good and happy and positive thoughts, please send them to the really amazing people in my life who are dealing with things that just hurt your heart.

And, tell me — what do you do for a friend who’s having a hard time? What are your tricks for helping somebody you love get through the tough stuff?