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Last of our Park Days

The weather has been a bit of a surprise lately. Just when we get all geared up for cold, wet Fall, the sun decides to stick around. The residual blue skies and crisp warmth has been more than a pleasantly unexpected bout. In fact, the majority of next week too calls for partly sunny. The cool air still hangs, clinging in the shadows as a reminder this season is indeed here. But the dryness? A far cry from what we’ve anticipated. There’s still a sense of urgency, though. The underlying knowledge we still need to take advantage of it while we have it. It’s become the story of my life. The park is the routine destination. The motivation is that this is likely one of the last of our park days for a while. But then we are graced with another. And another. We’ve been caught in a sequence of last days, which look to be a bit more never-ending than they elude in the moment.

I’ve enjoyed the shift in wardrobe. Sweaters, jackets, scarves. I bought a new pair of jeans, a purchase that is few and far between for me. Now I wish I would have bought two, as they have quickly become the daily uniform. Layers. I love layers. I love boots. I love the swoosh-crunch of a sidewalk covered in vibrant leaves. Thursday and Friday were my annual Ski Sweater Sewing Days, where I take second-hand Men’s cashmere and merino wool sweaters, felt them in the dryer, and refashion them into sweaters for the girls. Year 4 of this and we have quite a collection going. I pine for an ability to knit- that and throwing pottery are two creative endeavors I have been completely unable to pick up.

So off to the park we go. Burning off energy that would otherwise create messes left needing to be cleaned up at home. I wondered today for the first time since moving up here if I would like better living in a place where I wouldn’t have to carry additional items in safeguard from the weather? I’ve almost gotten out of the habit of carrying an umbrella. But that is unrealistic. Everywhere I have lived there is some sort of inconvenience about the weather- the snow, the constant sun, the rain, the wind. Weather weathers so much better when you are adequately prepared. Therefore we will continue to take advantage of this ability to get out. Because I still know, lurking around that corner, we will be forced inside and unable to go to the damp park.

Ironically this has come at a time right before we leave for Sunny Southern California. I thought this trip would be an adequate break from the rain, a getaway to the sun. Of course, partly sunny and under 60 is a far cry from the anticipated 80 degrees we will soon be experiencing in Joshua Tree. But I was really looking forward to a respite from the rainy season already having set in up here when we planned this trip so many months ago. Again, ironically, the trip comes at a very busy time. A time we thought we would be experiencing a bit of a break. But after a long, tedious year thus far, work has finally picked up for Matt. He is moving in a new direction. One which thankfully will provide more regularity, more stability and (very thankfully) more provision. But everything piles up at once. I too have experienced faster paced business than I anticipated. New directions I thought were farther off. These things require additional navigation in light of ensuring our priorities stay in line so that we don’t once again, invert the everything else category above the ones which need to remain at the top.

It’s these times where we continue to sprint. It feels much like the Indian runs I endured so many miles of training for soccer. Repetitive sprinting with purposeful periods of slowing down, yet continuing on with direction and purpose. Rest is not stopping, it’s just slowing down for a bit. It’s those periods where I can bring my head up for a bit, to let the pace slow just long enough to be ready to go again and not exasperate to utter burnout. Park trips are part of the jogging spans. I need to figure out what these spans will be when it’s too wet and the park is no longer a possibility. For the kids these spans are just life. The rhythms of activity, work and play they so keenly pick up on. I try to weave rhythmic slow times into their day too. I’ve struggled with this concept for them, especially Araiya, as too often this is synonymous with naps. But 2 out of 3 don’t really nap. Not that we don’t try, but even Tallis now has resorted to utter refusal to sleep in the regularly scheduled afternoon slot.

So I have begun reading to them. Not the usual kids books, but classic literature. They have already enjoyed the entire Beatrix Potter lineup, picking up keenly on the richness of the english language, as audibly hearing it broadens their skills and knowledge. I knew it was sinking in when Araiya told me once that Tallis was acting Poorly. I had wanted to start Kipling’s original Jungle Book (not some Disney modified story), but even after 2 years in this house our office is still in shambles, awaiting bigger more distant plans, and I can’t find several boxes of classical non-fiction I know I own. Instead I have settled into a chapter a day of Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek. So even park time, drawing time, and play time is saturated with novel ideas of water beetles, bird migration, frogs, turtles and the philosophically symbolic beauty of nature. It’s amazing how everything ties together- the change of seasons, the regularity of rhythms, exploration, release of energy at the park, anticipation of dessert exploration. We ebb and flow on, taking advantages of what is presented in front of us, while still looking ahead with anticipation.

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