Just this week I’ve seen steel gray blanketing overhead and cloudless, brilliant blue skies. A touch of rain dampened my front walk earlier this evening. The leaves on the backyard tree have begun to turn, and will soon start to fall.
With every tiny change, I expect to feel crisper air outside my window, and I want to reach for my sweaters, boots and scarves.
There’s a sense of slowing down in the fall. Not an overt sense, but a subtle one.
But this is southeast Texas, where a “cold front” equals 85 degrees and less humidity.
So, (im)patiently, I wait for a change in the seasons.
When I was a kid, my favorite season was summer.
I think most kids’ favorite season is probably summer.
Aside from the obvious reason of the summer break from school, it’s hard to pinpoint now why exactly I felt so partial to that time of year, and I think the reason I always thought of when I said I preferred the summer was that time away from the classroom.
I didn’t really get to see my friends during those two and a half months. They grew up 15, 20 minutes away, which doesn’t seem like much — and it’s not, unless you don’t have a car. Instead, I got to see my cousins, who often spent days at Granny’s house five minutes around the block while my aunt worked. I begged my mom to drive me there and drop me off for the day. Often, she did, and we spent days and days Xeroxing and coloring our favorite pages out of coloring books, building forts from pillows and afghans, playing games on the SuperNintendo we grew up with.
Sometimes Granny watched or even played with us, and no matter how skilled I became at Tetris, she was always better.
This is southeast Texas, where a “cold front” equals 85 degrees and less humidity.
When I stayed several days at a time at Nonnie’s, across town, I spent the majority of that time on the computer playing games or outside in the 1.5-acre yard, riding a 4-wheeler, playing games I made up in my head.
One year in middle school, the huge garden was lush and green, and I picked ripe tomatoes by the bucketful, crawling on my hands and knees in the dirt under the mosquito and bird netting and splashing my arms into the bird bath to cool off. Finger painting the bird bath edges with water, which quickly soaked into the concrete.
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer
The above lyrics from Nichole Nordeman’s “Every Season” are why I’m so partial to the song — because it evokes childhood memories of golden days spent in play, believing that anything was possible and that the world lay open to every possibility under the sun.
When I was a child, I believed the sun set at the end of the street I grew up on, Molina Drive, and even though I live off the end of that street now, I still let myself believe that.
I’m still partial to summer for those beliefs and those golden memories.
But I think, as I grew older, I’ve become far more partial to fall.
Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
As much as I always loved having a long stretch of time off from school, I’ve also always loved the start of a new school year. My favorite annual shopping trip was not for Christmas gifts or birthday presents or even school clothes — it was for school supplies. Markers, pens, folders, the perfect binder, a new backpack. Clean, fresh notebooks that had never been written in — lined blank pages full of possibility to a young writer.
If summer is for impossible beliefs, fall is for impossible dreams.
Even now, there’s something special about that time of year when I see parents post back to school photos, and I know that another year of school has begun. Part of me wishes I could be part of it still.
In parallel with the school year establishing a routine, there’s a sense of slowing down in the fall. Not an overt sense, but a subtle one.
Fall is for icy winds whipping strands of hair about my cheeks, sweeping away the dead leaves that curl and crunch underfoot on the sidewalk. Fall is for shades of scarlet, copper, russet, gold — warm colors fiery against a cold gray sky.
Fall is for shorter days and longer nights, crackling fireplaces and the promise of merry holidays spent with loved ones, with good food and good cheer. Very rarely does it snow where I live; the only white Christmas I’ve ever seen here was in 2004. But if summer is for impossible beliefs, fall is for impossible dreams.
My life doesn’t often slow down.
Just this afternoon my husband told me he was annoyed with me because I was preoccupied with my phone and that I’m always distracted. I am. He knows why.
But he’s right: my job runs my life because I let it.
Even now as the seasons begin their transition, my job doesn’t slow down — it’s not really designed for that. I suppose most jobs aren’t.
So it’s up to me to find ways.
I try to read a lot during my weekends, even when I am on call, if I can. It’s a good distraction from work, and from the pressures and responsibilities of everyday life.
Lately I like to light a scented candle from Bath & Body Works and curl up on the couch with my coffee and something to read.
Right now I’m sitting in a T-shirt and shorts on the edge of the hot tub, bare feet in the cool water in the shallows, playing with a pool noodle.
It’s late summer, and that provides its own ways to slow down, too.