november night reflections

The children are in bed. I decided to forego baths tonight. My last remnants of physical energy left my body a few hours ago, washed down the drain with the scraps and crumbs from dinner. Still, my mind is active, so here I am slumped over in my $30 thrift store chair and a cup of peppermint tea, thinking about the day and trying to solve the problems of my world–one of my favorite evening past-times.

The days are growing short and I find the increasing darkness to be disorienting. By 5:30pm it is black outside. Our bodies are still adjusting to the change. Dinner gets pushed up earlier, as does bedtime. We are approaching the peak of autumn, the trees just now coming into their prime, and I know that when we return home after the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be on the other side of the peak, making the quick and inevitable decent into winter.

I was looking back at some summer photos the other day and at this point it is already hard to fathom how different life felt then–the light, the heat, the carelessness of the long evenings. It’s crazy how much of life revolves around a change in the seasons and how much our memories are framed in that context.

This morning, during our drive to school, Lucy asked me why the leaves turn colors. It is hard to know how to explain this ritual to a three-year-old. I didn’t think she would appreciate a scientific answer (neither would I), so I just said that the cold weather tells the leaves it is time to change colors and that they get very bright and beautiful right before they die. Right after they change colors, they know it’s time to let go and fall to the ground. Then, in the winter, the trees are bare and get to rest–until the spring, when they get brand new leaves again.

“Then they’re green!” she exclaimed. 

“Yes, Lu, they are green in the spring,” I said. I am always surprised by what her mind holds onto. The mind of a preschooler is very much a mystery to me.

This autumn I have found myself wondering how the leaves know when to let go. I suppose it is some instinct God breathed into them–something that just happens–yet I marvel at it each year. Sometimes the change that they go through seems so exhausting to me–the birthing, growing, maturing, aging, and dying. All the stages we go through in a single lifetime as humans, the trees relive every year from beginning to end. Tiring, yet inspiring.

Lu’s favorite trees are the red ones, the ones with bright crimson leaves. I think they are my favorite, too. 

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It’s like one of my favorite poets, Linda Pastan, says…

Late in October, I watch
it all unravel–the whole

autum leafery
succumbing to rain.
At the moment
of their most intense beauty,
reds and yellows bleed
into each other
like dried paints on a palette

Perhaps beauty
is the mother of death,
not the other way around.

–from “Late in October” posted at Plume Poetry

“Perhaps beauty is the mother of death…”

That is something to think about…not only as it pertains to the trees…but as it pertains to our lives…this correlation between beauty and letting go…sacrifice and surrender.

That is all for tonight…time to let go of this day and prepare for another…

How does the autumn inspire you?

meet for coffee

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I was talking on the phone with a great friend of mine last week. It was a chilly autumn day, the first week of November, gray skies and orange leaves. She said that days like these remind her of when we were single, twenty-something, college students. We used to drive around in our cars and blare David Gray from the stereo, the perfect compliment to the moody weather. We used to get coffee together and talk for hours. She asked,

“Who gets coffee anymore?”

We are both thirty-somethings now. We live thousands of miles apart. Life has changed and suddenly caught up to us and we find ourselves perplexed by these changes and wondering how we got here. The twenties were so fast paced. We took our freedom for granted. We could spend hours at a time in a coffee shop talking about life and how we fit into it. Aging was not even on our radar. Yet now, here we are, with full-time jobs or children or domestic duties. Responsibility has entered the picture and we are suddenly appreciating the days when we could drop anything and meet up at the local Caribou for a couple of hours.

Who meets for coffee anymore?

Surely, not me, a mother of three. If I took all my kids to a Starbucks I can visualize the amount of damage they’d accomplish within a two minute period, the number of disapproving stares we’d summon from strangers, the kind of spectacle we would be. Meeting for coffee would require some forethought and planning–two things that aren’t my strong suit–not to mention a babysitter. It kind of kills the charm of it, I suppose. Spontaneity is part of what makes coffee time so much fun.

I still have coffee with friends, though now I invite them over to my house. I make us a pot in my faithful drip machine and we try to have meaningful conversation amidst a plethora of interruptions–fighting children, whining children, children who need help wiping, children who need a snack. Such is life in this season. It looks different than it used to, but there is still a lot of sweetness there.

Do you still meet up with people for coffee? Is this something that is passe, or is it just a reflection of the season of life you are in? What does meeting up for coffee look like for you?