October, the calendar says.
To the west, our cottonwood tree explodes into a thousand tiny yellow pieces. To the east the Gambel oaks glow maroon, yellow, orange, green, gold like a paint-by-numbers mural tacked up all around our Colorado valley.
It seems like yesterday that I scribbled this note on a scrap of paper: May 5th the kids come crashing inside like comets, leaving a spray of dirt and garden straw in their wake. Dirt and straw! Back in May, after the massive, white landscape thawed, dirt and straw were exotic substances to be noted.
After five months of summer, when the kids are stacked at the front door like dominos and I shout get hats and shoes on before you go out, Col is just as likely to grab a wool ski hat as a sun hat, and Rose is less than 50 percent likely to put her Crocs on the right feet, somehow defying the law of averages as only a 3-year-old could. Even now, or especially now, the autumnal daily layering and unlayering vexes them and it seems we need a suitcase of costume changes just to make it through one October day.
Our outside days are clearly numbered. But even as the sun cashes out earlier and earlier each night, I am comforted by the predictability of it all. Because it doesnt matter how many of us parents are wringing our minds over stuffing little limbs into snowsuits, our heavy, lithic planet is tilting away from the sun right on schedule.
And October is like a gift, one last fling of pumpkins and sunshine and roasted green chiles, before winter kicks us back indoors. We adults are experts at seeing the big picture, anticipating the transition from sandals to sneakers, making sure winter jackets still fit. The kids, bless their wise hearts, are mired in the details of now. Yesterday while I fretted over the long, afternoon shadows nipping at our garden, Col was in the chicken coop singing a song to his barred rock hen. The song says my 5-year-old boy, was about how its OK to lay an egg because there wouldnt be any babies.
Meanwhile, Rose is on spider hyper-vigilance, announcing the comings and going of our backyard cat-faced spider. I think he went on a trip, to Albuquerque. Rose explains when the orange spider is absent. Dwelling on winter-anxiety while fall is a patchwork of perfection makes as much sense to children as not eating the cookies that are right in front of them.
So Im taking my cue from the little people. Well celebrate fall by hopping on our bikes with pears stuffed in our mouths like prized pigs at a luau. Well soak up sunshine like medicine. Id stuff it in my pockets if I could, and maybe a handful of dirt and straw too.
Rachel Turiels column runs the first and third Sunday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out her blog on growing children and chickens at 6,512 feet: 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.