I hear it before I see it or feel it.
It is the sound that wakes me in the morning now,
Before the sun comes over the mountains,
it’s ahead of schedule, in the same way Christmas music on the radio
the day after Halloween, is still out of place.
It has a haunting feeling to it, as it stirs me from my slumber.
It is a melancholy sound in the evening sky,
sinking into my soul as I close
the windows against the slow chirp of crickets and a cool breeze.
It is the sound of the geese returning and flying in formation overhead,
looking for recently harvested cornfields to glean.
Like the bell on a metro train, cautioning scrambling passengers
that the doors will soon close, the honking of the birds is a warning
of the closing of a season, a reminder that time and tide
wait for no man…or woman.
Then I begin to notice it around me,
the slight chill on early morning walks,
I no longer need “wick away” clothing,
but I don’t need a jacket either.
When I take the dog on an evening walk,
we have to leave earlier,
so we aren’t caught by the dark,
walking home with the bats flying overhead.
Starbucks begins to sell Pumpkin Lattes and the
Snow Shack has not even closed its windows.
Pine needles fall and
clog the pump in the pond outside,
long before I am ready to give up the sound of falling water
next to my favorite reading chair. Besides,
I am only half way through my summer beach book.
The shadows from the house are longer and cover my sun loving zinnias
with a blanket of shade in the afternoon. The hummingbirds have
quit coming to the feeders too.
But there is still sticky red syrup on the deck for the ants.
Jacob got his driver’s license last week,
a little later than the rest of
the kids, seems like it is not quite so important
to have it on your sixteenth birthday anymore.
Still it is a rite of passage. He hasn’t stopped smiling,
and doesn’t seem to mind that I yell
“Drive careful” as he walks out the door—
and then I say a prayer to the Road Gods and hope they are mothers, too.
I calculate once more in my head how much money
I spend each month on insurance, but he is the last child,
the last one I will have to sit at the DMV with,
the last boy I will have to slam on imaginary brakes, while eyes roll and he says, “Mom, chill out.” (I hope the Road Gods eyes are watching as closely as I did!)
They are all independent now, almost anyway.
No more late nights, reading to stay awake so I can
pick someone up from work. I just turn off the lights,
lock the doors and crawl under the covers. I tried watching
Jimmy Fallon for a while, but I get sleepy earlier now, since Jay Leno left.
I still make Jake wake me up, though, when he comes home, so I know
he is safe and sound!
I bought two more hanging baskets, and some flowerpots that were
marked down to next to nothing, yesterday,
a frivolous splurge,
to extend the growing season.
I went to the store to buy school supplies.
No one is left at home that needs school supplies—except me.
Because, when I see yellow busses moving up and down the street,
I crave notebooks and pencils and erasers and a new box of crayons,
but mostly the notebooks, stacks of them,
full of white lined paper, blank pages,
waiting, for something, to be written down.
I am buying possibilities.
I am buying lines to organize chaotic thoughts.
And crayons for the grandkids,
but the smell of the new box is for me.
I also bought a box of Preference by L’oreal to color my roots.
I think about getting old more lately,
I want to age gracefully, not like the starlets on Entertainment Tonight,
And their “botox gone bad” faces with permanent smiles.
I want to age like Carole King,
who looked so hip sitting cross-legged on the cover of my
Tapestry album, when I got my first stereo, when I was thirteen.
And she still looked so natural on the Grammys singing a song from the Broadway musical Beautiful, forty years later.
Summer is not quite over yet, even though school has started.
Almost fall is beautiful, too.
It is also during these waning days of summer that I shop the
Farmer’s Market. It is at its prime.
I wish I could bottle it and save it for winter.
All the vendors are there with their bounty,
tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, squash, berries, corn,
I fill my eco-friendly bags to overflowing. Cheese, and loaves
of bread, pour out and over the top. There is a pain between my
shoulder blades as I slowly walk to my car, under the cerulean blue
sky, sunflowers growing between buildings and in parking lots. I stop
For lunch and see my granddaughter,
as I scoop her up, I feel a tug between my should blades,
a reminder of my bounties from earlier growing seasons.
If spring brings new hope, and summer is about growth,
Autumn is for grace, the flowing, simply elegant, refined kind
of grace, not the amazing kind. The grace that allows a leaf to gradually
change from dark green, to light chartreuse to yellow and then
Quietly let go and float gently, effortlessly to the ground. Carpeting the
grass, nourishing the soil. The grace that allows
for the letting go of many things, children and grudges and silly expectations and shoes with too high of a heel, and skinny waistlines….and blooming roses, especially the blooming roses. The grace that sees beauty in everyone and
recognizes the impermanence of all things. The grace that hears the sounds of a flock of geese and senses movement, change, migration and is at peace.