Though it is early September, Labor Day in fact, I feel the wheel of the seasons turning. I’ve noticed the light is different. The sun no longer rises so early and isn’t coming through the same windows of our house as it did at Midsummer. When did that happen? I also have noticed a distinct chill in the evenings different from the occasional chilly Midwestern summer nights. The wind is consistently coming from the northwest more often than from the south now, so much so that Hurricane Isaac never quite reached this part of Wisconsin.
The restlessness I feel at the beginning of fall is also on full display, like a mammal needing to put up enough food for the coming winter. I’ve begun baking and canning jellies. I can’t wait until apple season so I can make applesauce. I’ve even started to clean up the gardens for the winter, something I’ve rarely had time to do in the past seven years. The only thing missing is I won’t be going back to teach this fall, but that is actually a welcome change right now. I finally had time to go to Minneapolis to drop my son off at college, something I never had time to do before because I had a teacher’s schedule which started before the boys went back for fall semester. I’ve had the time to notice other changes as well.
The first leaves are beginning to turn deep russet and purple. The thistles have turned downy, and the goldenrod is lighting a path along the road sides like tiny flower fireworks. Soon they will start the sumac blazing, and the smell of fall will be like wine heady enough to make you drunk with its loveliness. When I walk with Stella every day, I notice summer leaving, but I think I am okay with that this year. I usually mourn the passing of summer, but the heat and having the time to mourn my job made this summer one of healing, like a balm to my soul, but I’m ready to move on now.
Bruce and I spent the majority of the long hot summer together, and I’ve come to see that as a gift even though we are both out of work. This year we will have been married for twenty-five years, a number that seems both far too small because I can’t remember much of my life without Bruce in it, and far too long because it seems only yesterday that we met at O’Malley’s in Athens. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. At this point in our lives, we always thought we’d be further along financially, but we never counted on a bad economy. This summer Bruce and I have been together every day except when he was doing his Army Reserve training. We’ve gardened, floated down the river on tubes, walked at least 300 miles with Stella, and through everything we’ve been happy. We’ve journeyed through troubles in previous years and will forge ahead carrying this burden as well. Even after all this time together we are still in love. We still love being together even when we don’t do much of anything. I still love the way he looks at me, and I still feel weak in the knees when I look at him. I realize how lucky I am.
This morning I went on a solitary run without Stella and without Bruce. I notice more alone than I do with either of them. As I walked along looking at all the autumn colors just beginning their transition and the wildflowers blooming in one last celebration of summer, I realized how much of a constant change is. We can never count on life running smoothly. The warmth of summer is replaced gradually by the chill of winter, but nature allows us the time to soak in the change, to learn from it, to prepare for the next season or the next part of our lives. Change is ever-present. We never know what lies ahead of us. We can only anticipate what might come, and if we don’t get what we want, perhaps we can be satisfied, even happy with what we need.
Though the summer is ending, I look back at what I’ve learned about myself and about human nature, and I am grateful for all I have. My two sons have blessed my life beyond anything I would ever have dreamed possible, and my husband…how do I begin to explain finding the other side of my heart? He grows dearer to me with each passing day and season. I know I will look back at this summer and remember our time together in this, our twenty-fifth year of marriage and thank God for the changes in my life that have allowed me the time to see what is truly important.