Pale September … I wore the time like a dress that year. The autumn days swung around me, like cotton on my skin.
September is wrapping around me like a cocoon, a blanket pulled up to my shoulders to keep out the chill of upcoming winter. It’s a soft landing after the hustle and bustle of August, an in-breath of family time and love, the comfort of home and those closest to me, snuggling deeper into the bosom of my family. I look out my window, and the light is different, softer, more golden — inviting me out into the world rather than warning me to stay inside. The trees are tipped with yellows and reds, the outermost branches signaling the slow change of seasons, warning us that soon the summer will slip away and winter will envelop us with grey skies and black branches and an icy drizzle that chills to the bone.
Summer is over, no doubt. The ferns on my neighbor’s porch have grown wild in their last gasp before the cold, bursting up and out of the hanging baskets, fronds draping down almost to the wooden steps. Our windows are open to the cool night air, the crickets singing their mournful song, the sounds of acorns dropping out of trees onto cars and sheds — plink! plink! crack! — on metal roofs. I wrap a sweater around my shoulders in the morning when I drink coffee on the patio, the warmth of the cup steaming into the air as the sun struggles to light up the sky. I wear sandals now out of defiance; I refuse to unpack my winter boots, yet I turn on the heater to warm my feet as I drive.
In a few days, October will be here. My favorite month, beset by witches and ghouls, pumpkins and skeletons, mums and candy corn, anniversaries and birthdays bookending the calendar. I will open up my storage boxes and pull out stacks of pumpkins to tuck into corners around the house, the haunted house a centerpiece for our dining room, a skeleton candy bowl to grace the hall table. I will send out birthday invitations trumpeting my little love’s 3rd rotation around the sun, calling for our friends and family to join us for cake and streamers and uninhibited joy in the back yard. We will celebrate 10 years of marriage next month, and I might even manage to get a wedding portrait framed and hung. We will drive out to the pumpkin farm, ride on a tractor, pluck ripe orange fruit from the field, get dusty and dirty in the warm sunlight of the afternoon, and when our shadows grow long across the ground, we will regroup at gramma’s to recount our adventures and share dinner. I will have the excuse, found only once each year, to pull on purple and black striped stockings and a pointed silk hat.
This year, she will go with them, the boy and his best friend and their fathers, as they traipse the neighborhood begging for candy and cavorting in the street. It is impossible for me to consider that last year she was so small, too little to be out in the cold night air, but that 365 days later she will be running up to strange houses, demanding her share of the treats with a squeal and enforcing her right to share of the booty. It is impossible for me to think that the year before that, we walked the streets of Northern City with him in tow, cementing his place in the family as he was introduced to cousins and meat pies and Italian pastries and the wonder of the zoo. It is impossible for me to remember that three years ago, I was as ripe and round as the pumpkins we pick and that he spent his very first Halloween wrapped in a hospital blanket. It is impossible for me to believe that each year at this time, they will be so much bigger, so much older, and that I will grow up with them. And yet, impossible as it is, it’s true.
Some days, it feels like time flies by so quickly, sand slipping through my fingers — I can touch it, but I can’t hold it. I know it’s there, but I can’t build anything with it. Other days, it feels like time is warm molasses and I sink into it, surrounding myself with the sticky sweetness of each moment, savoring each and every drop available to me.
The beauty of love, as it was made to be.