Autumn has always been my favorite season. As a youngster I loved heading back to school. School meant order and learning, and something fresh on the horizon. There was nothing better than the sight and smell of a brand new spiral bound notebook, unmarred by the ink of classroom notes and study hall scribbles; no pages torn out. Back to school always meant new shoes; a clean and unscuffed beginning.
Autumn also brings the most glorious colors, as though God has said, “I will give you this treat for your eyes before the long, dank winter.” The crisp air means it’s time to don a cozy sweater and put some spiced apple cider on the stove. The pungent scents of ripe apples, grapes on the vine ready to pick, and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot are, to me, a sampling of heaven on earth.
Now the vicarious years of enjoying our daughters’ nightly giggles and daily challenges are over. With one beginning grad school and the other fully ensconced in her undergrad education, we find ourselves in a brand new type of autumn. While I thoroughly understand the analogy to baby birds having flown away, I have never really been comfortable with the “empty nest” description. Maybe it’s because our chicks still find their way back to the coop, even as a temporary landing spot between their brave, new adventures.
Somehow, the “autumn years” seems more fitting. This is a much quieter season, where the levels of energy and expectation are both lower. We find ourselves looking to reclaim this most beautiful season. It is harder to find freshness in your autumn years. It has become work to find new ideas, things to explore and create, and tasks to occupy our all too open free time. We still seek the red and golden hues of a new, and longer, autumn season. As always, we will try to prolong the onset of winter. This time around the stakes seem a little higher.
This will become a journal, of sorts, as we wade into our somewhat tidy pile of raked up leaves to see what treasures may emerge.