Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Life is Good

The atmosphere outside is heavy with moisture and an incoming low pressure system. It's hot and humid, but the wind, which blows from every direction, has a chill to it, and it tears the yellowing leaves from the ash trees. Many of the wild apples have already lost most of their leaves, and their bare branches hang heavy with yellow, gold, and green fruit. I'll pick a few sour, mealy apples to make Curry a pie for his birthday next week, but the rest will fall to the ground and rot or feed the deer through the winter. We still have jars of apple butter we made two years ago on the shelves.

The staghorn sumac have taken on their Christmas appearance--half red, half green--but the oaks, the beeches, the hornbeams, even the maples, are still green. I recite their names like a spell to keep summer around a little longer. But in the understory the Virginia creeper has turned crimson, the wild sarsaparilla has faded yellow-brown, and the false Solomon's seal is weighted down by clusters of scarlet berries. Bumble bees nose in the last of the asters, the wild wind tosses grasshoppers and sulphur butterflies, and I hear a late cicada among the crickets, but there's no denying the truth: fall is here.

I have a cozy, brown wraparound sweater that I'm not allowed to wear until after the first frost and my favorite chartreuse teapot I can't use until it's snowed at least once. These are my talismans, or perhaps my bribes. If you don't run away to the desert before winter, you may wear your sweater, drink your tea. And then, wrapped in warmth inside and out, you can look out on the falling snow and remember summer, when everything was so easy. Only it's not always easy in summer, is it? What with the black flies, deer flies, horse flies, and mosquitoes. When it's too hot and humid to move. When you have other obligations and can't be outside witnessing every flower bloom and bird hatch and insect buzz by. It goes by so fast, and I miss so much.

This morning I was salvaging the last of the peaches, cutting away the bad parts and putting the rest in my cereal bowl, and I got a bit of mushed peach on my shirt and it reminded me of baby food, and that brought on the most unbelievable wave of nostalgia, even though my kids hated baby food. In fact, getting them to eat anything other than the gunk behind the radiators during their first few years of life was one of the greatest challenges of my parenting journey, right behind potty training and teaching teenagers how to drive (my current phase of motherhood).

This is what people mean when they tell new mothers, "Enjoy every minute; it goes by so fast." Only it's not impossible to enjoy every minute of motherhood, like all those times you peeled and mashed peaches, scooped the sweet goodness on a tiny, silver spoon, and held it to pair of clamped-shut lips, any more than it's possible to enjoy every minute of summer, like that time you were drenched in sweat, covered in dirt, and swarmed by mosquitoes because you decided to transplant perennials from your neighbor on a 90-degree, 90-percent humidity day. But after you were done with the plants, you went and swam in the pond and then lay down in the hammock with a popsicle, and life was good. So very good.

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