Yesterday I performed my annual first rite of fall. I moved my summer clothes; shorts and tank tops to the box stored in the back of the closet. From that box I had already pulled out sweatshirts and long jeans. From the sweater storage in the vinyl zippered bags, I removed my sweaters and some dress pants. I put in cropped pants and the sleeveless tops and swimsuits. The sundresses and summer pantsuits were hung in a winter closet and the fall and winter outifts were re hung in the bedroom closet. I do this twice a year, but the spring changing over is a drawn out affair as spring is a fickle mistress here. She may tease us with 70 degree days in March and early April but we know it will not last so we tend to just keep the jeans in place and replace the sweatshirt with a t-shirt for that day. We slowly replace sweatshirts with tees and finally sleeveless and tank tops. The shorts come out last and it is likely June before the full switch over is completed.
Somehow in the Fall we just know when it is no longer shorts weather. It happens in September and we go from loving having shorts on to the rapidly shortening days and cooler mornings and earlier evenings of wanting jeans, seemingly overnight. We just know. And so we begin the switch. We do it grudgingly, acknowledging that Fall is here and much as we would like to turn back the clock to the glorious days of summer, its not going to happen, until Autumn and Winter have had their say. I usually do this switching over with great resignation, boxes and clothing taken out of drawers sitting in the bedroom for weeks at a time, but this year it just seemed to be a good job to do on a rainy day, and so I did.
I used to embrace autumn and I would like to do that again, and so I smiled fondly as I put away clothes that would wait another year to be reworn, sorted through the fall and winter clothing, gleaning good clothing I hadn't worn for the last two years to send to the church run clothing bank. It gets easier as there are just the two of us, and I care less about what clothing I have. I realize I am slowly sinking into that mode of preferring what is comfortable to what may be the latest trend. I am finding that it has crept up on me, but is not without its attractions. I don't endure uncomfortable shoes for the sake of style, and admit I have "problem feet" and need the support of solid shoes and don't really care if high heels make my legs look longer. It does me no good if I can't walk for four days afterward. I find I am still most comfortable in good fitting jeans and a comfortable, well worn sweatshirt. I dress for warmth in winter now, not style.
I hope I have retained my love of harvest in the fall as I have been gathering apples this year, the last of the tomatoes to bring inside and allow to ripen wrapped in newspapers slowly so I have garden tomatoes into the late fall. I have cut the last of the garden basil to make a pesto, as frost will surely do that delicate annual in here. I still have carrots and onions to dig, but they will wait until later in the fall. This year I will not plant the 600 or so tulip and daffodil bulbs I generally do every October. My spring bulbs will have to be what they are next year. But I have many "housekeeping and yard" tasks to do this fall yet, and I will not lack for things to button up and tighten down. It is the farm girl in me to want to harvest and then store my "nuts" as does a squirrel. The wild turkeys are every where now foraging on the nuts reigning down from the trees, another sign fall is upon us.
The days are shortening and the trees are now changing color rapidly. We have reached that window of perhaps 3 weeks of color in our part of Michigan. The maples begin it all along with poplars and aspens. Next the oaks and locusts, go to reds and shades of gold. Finally the weeping willows turn yellow and drop their leaves in late November winds. We go from color abounding to bare, brown trees which will be our landscape for the next 6 months.
It is the time to put up and store away. To plan for the winter projects and look back over a year, hopefully, well spent. To review and decide how you have learned and grown. To realize the worrying and the "stressing" probably didn't accomplish anything. To mourn the loss of dear friends and loved ones, and to appreciate the new lives entering, to make our senior years ones of joy. It is a time to appreciate the little things, that are taken for granted much of the year.
This year as I put away the clothing of another summer of my life, I also put away the happy memories and all that I have learned, to be pulled out in the coming winter months as something to celebrate. This year, I am determined not to mourn the ending of summer so much as to reflect on all it taught me and look forward to the challenges and comforts of autumn and the ending of the year. I learned much from last winter's hard lessons, and now hope to celebrate good health and a new decision to make the most of what I have right now. I have reconnected with my Lord and I want to keep that growth as something I strive for through every day remaining to me.
Hello to Autumn and a fond farewell to a Summer I won't soon forget.