Changing of the seasons offers comforting sense of predictability

Oh summer, you circus of sensory pleasures! For months, the land is blindingly green, bright blossoms flag down honeybees and butterflies, and our fleece jackets sit on indoor hooks looking sort of archaic while we imbibe sunshine like Charlie Sheen on a bender.

Our outside days are numbered. But even as the sun cashes out earlier and earlier each night, I am comforted by the predictability of seasons. Because it doesn’t matter how much I’m wringing my mind over stuffing little limbs into snowsuits, our planet is tilting away from the sun right on schedule. And like photo-editing software, this realization resizes my place in this universe, cropping me down to where I belong. No matter what my mind is clinging to or pushing away, in October, the northern half of this big blue ball reclines away from the sun and the aspen trees explode into a thousand yellow pieces.

And it’s a clever trick, this last flare-up such epic gorgeousness, it’s like taking Rose to the all-you-can-eat mac-and-cheese bar before breaking the news that it’s kale salad for the next five months.

We took the kids on our annual fall trip, clearing everything off the calendar for this one day, and you could almost hear the clunk of work and deadlines thudding to the floor.

As we walked through the aspen groves, I had one of those moments where the world shrinks to a spotlight illuminating this day, and I’m present enough to realize that right now, everything is good in a simple and straightforward way. Our family unit is still an uncontested force everyone believes in. The kids’ smiles are free of any real heartbreak.

In a contest between “looking good” and “having fun,” there is no contest. Col delves straight into the mud puddles soon as he’s sprung from the car. Rose is both old enough to hike a good distance, but young enough to turn to me and say, “Can you hold my hat while I run like a pony?”

I kept focusing my camera in on something – like the yellow leaf ornaments decorating Christmasy spruce trees – and not actually snapping a picture, realizing I just wanted to see it again, to mark it in my memory before everything changes. Which is exactly how I feel about our family right now. Here we are, still belonging sweetly to each other before the bigger world, appropriately, lures the kids away.

After a dinner of burgers, fries and milkshakes, the kids fell asleep on the way home, evoking all the sweetness and innocence that rises to the top of sleeping children everywhere. Dan and I did a lot of happy sighing, acknowledging that winter is the Next Thing Coming, and that’s OK. I’m looking forward to the seasonal shift toward indoor creativity, and for the time, as Dan says, “to digest the big meal of summer.”

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.