It’s autumn, it’s raining, it’s synonymous.
I look my best in warm clothes, and my greatest purchasing weakness: cardigans. The leaves are soggy and falling thick outside, the ground is saturated. I turn the lights on by two in the afternoon now, I want to bake things, I light candles. So when the rare days of autumn sunshine arrive, we’re outside in the dying of the light, always.
I’m most at home in these days: climate, stage of life, place, family, community, theology, all of it. It’s interesting/odd/weird/wonderful how ten years ago, seven years ago, four years ago, I felt so square-peggish in every area of my life, and now I’m belonging.
The light is worn out, and it smells like the world is sleepy, just tired out. Trees are baptized in orange fire, slender white birch trees are naked and unashamed in their loveliness. I took the tinies for a wander on a sunny day and a dog came along, a nice mutt of a dog, scruffy but well-loved, friendly. His owner had a shopping cart full of pop cans, and we threw tennis balls for a while, until it was time to go, and Joe critically examined the cart and its owner: “You’re pretty old but my like you and your doggy” was the final verdict. Thankfully, our new friend chuckled, and we left, waving good-bye, and I wondered if I should have offered a cup of coffee or something. He hollered “Thanks for playing with my dog!”
Evelynn fell very ill after I returned from Haiti. I hate when she’s sick, but I didn’t mind the hours we spent in my red rocking chair. The tinies played in the front yard, while we sat at the front window and rocked for an entire afternoon. She slept in my arms, feverish, and I rocked steady, singing sometimes, humming, heart-beating, memorizing. No one minded eating toast and cereal for supper that night.
When I was growing up, my mother had a crewel embroidered saying on her wall: “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow for babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quiet down, Cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” I have one hanging in my living room now, it’s my saying now, and I hope to pass it down to my tinies someday, in word and spirit and deed. Rock your babies, hold them, love this time, it’s always shorter than you think before the leaves start to fall on another season. My mother and my father taught me that, they taught me to delight in small things, and to notice them. They taught me that by delighting in me.
Anne read that looooooong “Green Eggs and Ham” out loud this week, and I am in raptures of joy and pride. She was named a Star Student this month for her hard-work and her kindness. (Eshet chayil!) She’s such a little kid now, with funny jokes, and friends, and questions. I drop her off at school, and she always grins and waves, and then she’s off, out of my arms for the day, on her own. I’m glad she’s still her. I’m glad that school hasnt’ change her fundamental core. It feels like yesterday that she was in my arms, and it was just us two then, for these slow afternoons of humming my old church songs by the windows, watching another autumn’s leaves fall away.
The days feel shorter now, the years are faster. Just like that, another trip around the sun, the leaves are falling, and we’re rocking for a little while longer. I’m listening to childish voices sounding out words in the living room, refereeing their arguments, calming hearts, I’m making supper, crumbs are stuck to my feet, Joseph still sneaks into our bed in the mornings to hold my hair and snuggle.
Right now, as I write this, the rain is pouring, the wind is whipping by, it’s dark and dreary, and somehow, still, I feel like I belong here.