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Category: Family Capital

October: A Time to Keep

September 30, 2022

The winds are blowing this afternoon in the northern hemisphere, bringing a new season of life, a slower season—autumn. The light has already changed; golden and softer now. This time brings a chance to settle in, come close, and restore.

The squirrel who lives in the tall oak tree on a neighboring property has been gathering the fallen seeds from our birdhouse for the season to come. From our breakfast table, we can see him; from the top of the enormous elder, he scampers downward, then across the top fence posts, and with a quick swing and a jump, he lands into our garden. How we smile at his stuffed cheeks. He wastes nothing. 

The hydrangeas are growing introspective now; their energy that produced seasonal blooms of beauty is turning inward. They’re turning the color of the blanket I’ve pulled from storage to keep my son warm. A measured step becomes their nature now. 

The cellar is filling with garden squashes and potatoes, apples, and jams and jellies for hard, cold months ahead. We have been working to fill it.

Woolen things are slowly reappearing here and there around our home and my knitting needles are at work once again, stitching a scarf for my baby daughter.

My mother calls this kind of time an in-between season. It’s hard not to notice signs of change as it unfolds, and yet it’s difficult to identify a clear beginning. The wonder of it all is this: the world around hasn’t actually changed, only the things that mark it, as it is, in this moment. The shade of light, products of the earth’s energy, a change in habit. Small and simple as they are, these things bring the change.

As a mother of young children, I’m often told “cherish every moment,” “they grow so quickly,” “before you know it, they’ll be gone.” I’m sure they’re right, but the lovely signs of this season of mine are simple to see, to cherish. Every day spent with my children reminds me of these things. 

My daughter’s curly hair bounces cheerfully as she toddles around during the day. We didn’t expect her to have curly hair, so each time I see it go up and down, I feel a deep part of me soften to melting with adoration. 

It makes me smile at how my little boy gallops wherever he goes. He has a sensational imagination and he makes the best adventure pal. 

Reading is loved here and though they may be humble, my children’s libraries are well-worn and familiar to us. During our days, we may be found at any given time tucked in blankets, reading away the day. Wonderfully, reading here is coziest during autumn. These days have yielded precious information to me: I know how many pounds my children weigh in my arms as I read to them. I know how they smell. I know what narrations delight them and make them squeal. I know their squeals a mile away.

In late afternoon light, my daughter sits silhouetted in the garden, backlight illuminates the dusty blue delphinium. Before it, she is golden and rosy at once.

I have a long, running list of things I never want to forget as his mother: how soft and sincere his kisses are on my cheeks is one of the top.

Tucking them in for the night is often taxing and priceless in equal measure. But even here, it is easy to see how special these things are. These things glow in me like treasures. I want to keep them in my pocket forevermore.

I can hear him downstairs now, coming home from the park. 

“Mom! Mom!” he rushes to my side, “I found four acorns for the squirrel!”

I scoop him up into my arms and kiss his soft cheeks, smelling his little-boy hair. He bounds off to set them out for the squirrel in the morning.

“Honey?” my husband calls from downstairs.

Now I can hear my baby girl giggling up the stairs toward me to split into sunshine smiles, warmer than the sunset outside.

Bathtime.

Storytime by the fire.

Prayers and bedtime.

The wind blows outside.

All things in a day’s work—things of a time to keep.