It's not that fall is exactly here, but it's surely creeping in like a high tide, pushing us toward higher ground while we clutch our sand toys, wondering: Where did summer go? Weren't we just wallowing in it like a thick pool of molasses, too dark and heavy to ever wash away? Now it's all rush off to preschool, and where are the warm jackets and will those 235 tomatoes ever ripen?
We live like cats now, always trying to fine tune the temperature. In the mornings we wear long sleeves and chase the full, unadulterated sun. This makes me feel slightly panicky, like it might snow tomorrow and we don't have enough salted ham hocks hanging in our cellar. By midday, the sun is so blinding in the cloudless sky, we crowd under the small bustle of shade created by our semi-dwarf apple trees to lick popsicles.
It's such a mind tease, September. The month is heartbreakingly beautiful, mostly because it is slipping away while you're standing right in the middle of it. The goldfinches pluck seeds from the sunflower that was in full, satiny bloom just last week.
It's like that picture of WWII wives blowing kisses to men pushing off in ships aimed for distant shores. What you love is right here and floating away in the same moment. Hello and goodbye.
The kids see none of this. They love that I'm no longer applying sunscreen to their bodies with a wide paintbrush three times a day, nor staring out the window at 3 p.m., shaking my head at that choking summer heat you can actually see rising off the pavement in waves. They live in the moment, that precise gift of childhood. They're hungry for each day.
Right now we eat plums in the alleyway and marvel at the migrating geese skimming the sky overhead. In a few months, they'll be awed by the quiet fury of an evening snowstorm.
Each season is as ephemeral as that particular stage of your child's life - the one you swore you'd never forget. Like when your baby was inch-worming across the linoleum like a very small break dancer, and you swore the date of that first locomotion would be etched in your mind forever.
There is so little reflection time available in the nonstop work of parenting. Yesterday's stories collapse under the scaffolding of today's mundane tale, titled: How Col wore three dresses and ran around the garden begging to pull up carrots.
Maybe so many seasons have blown through your house, your child's stages are stacked like oversized books in a library; it would take a team of archaeologists with tiny, delicate tools to tease out the memory of how your child pronounced "blueberry" at age two.
Perhaps we can learn from the child-teachers how to live in the moment.
September is here in all its seedy, yellowing glory. How will you delight in that heady ripeness right now?
Rachel Turiel's column runs the first and third Sunday.