My daughter sent me a text, a photo of her sunbathing blanket upon which one small, golden leaf had fallen – a harbinger of autumn. She’s not a fan of autumn or winter, cool weather, snow, rain or anything but sunshine. She has beautiful skin, too; blessed with Scandinavian genes. She’s making a permanent move to Hawaii the end of September, a place I’ve had no desire to visit until now – if I want to see her very often.
Another daughter is on vacation, floating around on Lake Michigan with her boyfriend. They spent a week in Alaska camping, boating, guesting at the wedding of a friend, and visiting The Mom. Good to see her, especially since it’s been nearly 20 years since she was home last.
Another daughter lives in Anchorage, discovering and making a new path of independence. An artist, a Russian linguist, she has interesting options ahead and plenty of drive to get her wherever she may want to go.
I’m looking forward to Autumn for simple reasons. This year I’m especially eager for the season change because of the heat and wildfire smoke. And because I had to tear out my garden for the year before heading south for August. Early. Practically nothing harvested before I left but a couple zucchini and peas, which made putting everything to bed easier. I left the tomatoes and potatoes, both of which should make it through the month with little more than watering. I’m hoping for several bushels to make the short-season effort worth something.
I’m watching the decline of my mother-in-law. It’s becoming pronounced with her convalescence from hip surgery. The memory lapses can’t be attributed to medication or anesthesia; the desire to sleep has less to do with fatigue than likely depression; and the loss of appetite can’t be hidden behind a desire to please me or the nurse at mealtimes. Before leaving the hospital this afternoon, her physician discussed with me a trial of an antidepressant variant with a desirable side effect of improved appetite and mood. We wonder if she’s enjoying all the attention that comes along with hospitalization – meals, bed rest, company, and finding little incentive to get up and moving and back to normal life at home.
This season change, one from lazy summer days of plenty to a building sense of urgency to be prepared for the long haul ahead. Mom reminds me of that, of the need to work and be ready for difficulties and hardships. She’s lolling, content to savor the ease and largesse of age and debility with an absent desire to improve and enjoy what life is ahead of her. I expect she feels this is the season of change for her, a transition to the winter of her life with spring, if there is to be spring, a long, long way off.
I love this photograph, taken from my bedroom window one winter morning. Each day for several weeks I’d try to capture the beauty of the sun rising over the horizon, first light coming through the trees. Each day was the same, but this particular photo captured the exact “awe” moment, the one I’d been waiting for, anticipating; a small thing, but the one that helps make the worst of it worth it.