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Indian Summer

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As I type this, it’s pouring rain outside. A far cry from most of the past week, which has been much more of an Indian Summer. Sure, there’s been those little bouts of grey, as rain (such a foreign concept now) came trickling down our windows and the kids begged me to take them to the park. The lure of sun and warmth is still there, in an almost expected way. Why would it ever be any different? The polar opposite from every other season in Seattle where the rain is just as expected. Yes, we are still in Summer mode- dresses, shorts, tank tops (which Tallis calls ‘tunics’). This was the sweet, warm memory from my childhood of warm nights stretching into the next season, as the leaves change and morning air cools to a crisp, familiar smell, but Summer hangs on. Just a bit longer. Until, finally, abruptly, the sky opens up and pours down Fall and Winter on us. When we can no longer get away not wearing jackets and jeans and boots. That abruptly, it’s gone. Gone from our everyday and tossed back into seemingly distant memory. So I am trying to savor this, perhaps a bit too much, because I know all too well what is looming. The kids don’t. They are far too much in the moment, creatures of immediate habit with little concept of forethought. It’s hard to explain to them why Mommy spent time this week sorting through all of their clothes, sifting out the ‘tunics’ and sun dresses and skirts- the very items they have been living in for what probably seems like indefinitely to them. I very much wonder if that can’t remember it any other way. I think perhaps even I don’t.

Rotating out clothing has been concrete enough for me. I think I really HATE the end of Summer. There’s pangs of bittersweet sadness. I’d had such great plans for the Summer. Plans obviously too lofty to override everyday life, bumps along the road, overlooking sickness, work, last minute schedule changes and severely falling away from any sort of regular routine. We wanted to camp a few more times, spend at least one day a week at the beach, go hiking, take Araiya on her first backpacking trip, discover new parks, make it out to a few farms. So I just never got my act together, and suddenly, the Summer is over. Then just in the past few weeks I’ve been utterly surprised at how I’ve been grappling with wanting Fall to come. Mostly I think because I was lured in to the regularity and routine the back to school season brings. Only we don’t do school. I’ve worried perhaps we should have done preschool for Araiya. Not just for her, as I think she actually really would benefit from structured time like that, but also for the rest of us who would also be regulated by the school days routine. It’s easy to desire this for the wrong reasons, to buy into the deception some external thing would fix our hiatus of irregularity. But I keep seeing openings at some of the local preschools and it’s luring enough to visit the website. Unfortunately the deciding factor comes down to the financials- most of these preschools are in the $300-$500 per month range for 2 days a week. In this lean season, just that sum is not only dauntingly impossible but also simply not good stewardship right now. (There are free/subsidized preschools, but since nearly everywhere has already started, enrollment for these was closed by the end of August) But it’s a good opportunity for us to continue stuff at home with her. She’s constantly amazing us at her ability to sound out words and write out letters into something just about readable.

Beyond clothes and beyond school and beyond the fading sun rays, I actually am looking forward to Fall. While it’s sad to see this season go, I do remember how much I love Fall, too. First comes the remembrance of Fall Food. Soups, breads, the rich earthy flavors, warmth of hot meals, complex textures, long slow meat roasts- all the things that have been undesirable, even to cook in a hot kitchen, I now savor as they fill our house with warm smells. I do wish we would have planted more Fall foods in our garden- more winter squash, winter greens and such. Our two giant pumpkin plants, each taking up a nearly 5 foot diameter area, have produced two measly pumpkins. One is round, small and green while the other is oblong and vibrant orange already. I’ve contemplated naming them Bert and Ernie, but I don’t think the girls would get the reference. Next year they will have to find a new location.

But with the prolonged sun, the girls have continued to spend a lot of time back there. Though their willingness to go play outside has waned since our bee hive incident. They’ve told me several times they saw a bee and want to come back inside. And stay inside. With a day like yesterday- mid 70′s with warm rays filtering through the fruit trees, how can I not banish them to the outdoors? We’ll soon be loosing the ability to leave the kitchen door open as the girls gleefully run in and out. My mindset is to take advantage of it now, take advantage of where we are at and all that it offers. Soon that door will remain shut tight and locked, as it is prone to some severe cold air infiltration if not properly secured. Soon we won’t be able to play outside in this same manner, our very behaviors within what going outside entails will have to adapt. I’m obviously still a bit bummed about the Summer being over, and no matter how I’ve desperately wanted to make up for the lost time of the fading Summer, I can’t control when it will finally slip away. Even so, I can look beyond it. I can (and am) making preparations. Change is good. The benefits we loose from Summer we’ll gain new ones in Winter. Like Skiing. We’ll take advantage of the cold, snowy months when they’re here. It might seem odd now, but we’ve begun outfitting ourselves for Ski Season. There’s plenty of excitement and anticipation in that, even as I sit in a pair of shorts at my computer buying gloves, goggles, helmets and long underwear.

There’s a turning point. Just in this past week I have actually enjoyed the preparation for the change of seasons. I like being able to evaluate our needs then be able to go out and acquire those things that will benefit is for what’s to come. For the first time I actually am feeling like my mind and my actions are more in the mode of forethought opposed to my usual reacting in the heat of the moment or after the fact. Too often it’s been, oh no, Araiya’s desperate for jeans. I resented that I was feeling like we couldn’t or shouldn’t be getting things like that because there was no planning in that expense. We’ve been very fortunate by some immense generosity in this area, a lot of our clothing comes through gifts. It’s been both a blessing and a crutch, as our (especially my) ability to consume and provide clothing for ourselves has been downright tainted by some embedded patterns of unrighteousness inability to know how to do this well. For the first time ever I feel like I am starting to break out of that entanglement. And I know Matt is at a point where he can understand where these feelings of hesitation, inabilities and why I chafe at the thought of going shopping stem from. There’s been too much twisted thinking that stuff like clothes aren’t a basic need and don’t come with strings attached, feelings of uneasiness while making purchases and riddled with doubt in regards to how those things will affect relationships between giver and receiver. I took Araiya to a local consignment shop last week and got her some much needed long sleeve shirts and a jacket. They were needs, calculated and not superfluous spurges. The acting out of an expression of the freedoms I’ve now experienced has taken a huge weight off- even in something that simple, it carries a lot of relief. And at the end of the week, I took an evening to myself and picked up some much needed cooler weather clothes (items that are pretty basic necessities) for myself- jeans, tops, even underwear. There’s still a few more items on my list- Araiya needs a new ski jacket, for one. I could use a few sweaters. A big part of this process for me is shedding things that are old, obsolete, ill-fitting and beyond their period of reasonable use. It very much reflects the regular occurring change of seasons we are simultaneously experiencing.

Perhaps changing seasons are just like that- sad for what is passing mixed with simultaneous anticipation of what’s to come. So why does my feelings wrapped up in it always catch me by surprise? Like my kids, there’s still so much I need to mature in regards to my awareness and forethought when I get too comfortable where I am, trying to hang on rather than grasp what’s to look forward to in where I’m going.

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[As an aside- In my post about the Bee's Nest, I made the comment about how, even with three kids and four years, we had yet to have to go to the ER. Well, I think I jinxed myself, as right after I wrote that, we did indeed have to go to the ER. Poor Pia managed to scratch her cornea while sitting in the middle of the living room while her sisters and I where putting shoes on maybe 10 feet away. I have no idea how it happened. Suspect it was a fingernail, but hard to be certain. It was obvious right away there was something wrong with her eye as she was rubbing it and crying, so I washed it out thinking she got something in it. And she acted better, so we went out an ran errands (clothes shopping for Araiya), during which she kept her eye closed. She was asleep when we returned home, so I let her nap, but she woke up just screaming and in obvious pain. So off the the Pediatric ER down the street we went (one obvious benefit of living in the city- we have three ER's within 1/2 mile- one trauma, one general and one pediatric. If we really needed, Children's Hospital is only about 2.5 miles away). They illuminated her eye with yellow dye and the large scratch right down the center was obvious. In the bigger picture, relatively minor, as eyes heal super fast. Between antibiotic ointment and Motrin, she was back to normal the following day.]

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