September 22. First day of Autumn!!
Believe it or not, I am actually a lover of the changing seasons, and more shocking than that, I really do love fall. I love digging out my sweaters and jeans and cute hats. I love the seasonal produce lining the shelves of Hy-Vee. I love brisk walks, and pumpkin patches, and tailgates. I love the caramel apples my friend, Jackie, brings to me-- the ones that are maybe 5% apple and 95% caramel/M&M's. I love picking up and dusting off my knitting needles, a hobby that I just cannot bring myself to do when it's bright and sunny outside. I even kind of love when I accidentally ride my bike over a big ol' walnut and it squishes under the tire, staining tire and ground alike.
And while I love these things, I still love Summer the most. It's my hands-down favorite season. I love when the mercury rises above the 80 degree mark. I love being forced to wear tank tops and not thinking twice about the bat wings I've developed where my triceps used to be. I love that unless it's raining, like downpouring, the weather is just fine for a few good hours outside (walking, playing, biking, swimming, etc.). I love that the sun wakes you up at 5:00 and that same sun doesn't even dip below the horizon until close to 9:00. I love that our deck gets used, really used, because we're always crafting or creating or eating on it. I love that the house is surrounded by flowers in full bloom-- flowers like petunias and marigolds that thrive in full sun. Their motto is mine: The more sun the better.
But when I sit back and really reflect on why I love summer so much, the weather is only a piece of the equation. (Okay, it might be a pretty big piece-- but still, just a piece.) Perhaps an equally large piece of the equation is the connectedness I feel during the summer months. I feel more connected to the Earth. I feel more connected to my family--without the daily hassle of keeping up with work demands. I feel more connected to myself-- with extra time to exercise, meditate, read, and prepare more healthy meals. And I feel more connected to other people.
During the summer, making and keeping connections with others is almost effortless. We see people at the pool or parks or on long walks around town. We spontaneously share play dates and dinners and good conversations. I find myself helping out neighbors by watering gardens, watching dogs, and picking up mail. I've realized that all of these things help me feel that sense of belonging that we all need and want. And while I tend to think of myself as an "introverted-extrovert", I have to admit that when I'm connecting with others (in relatively small settings), I'm feeling my best.
So when the temperature drops and we dig out the sweaters and hats and mittens, we also close up our houses. We clean out flower beds, we take down decorations, we pack away the summer toys. We switch the lawnmower out for the snowblower and trade fans for ice scrapers. We put the patio furniture in storage-- for we know nobody in their right mind will be sitting outside in the months to come. We close our doors and windows. We shut the garage. We retreat inside. And there we stay.
I don't think it's anyone's intention for a disconnection to happen in the winter months, but it's almost inevitable with everything closed up and packed away. I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about holing up too much in Spahnville this winter. Last winter was rough-- as in, really rough. And though it was rough for many different reasons, I think part of my unease stemmed from the lack of connections I had with others during those months. I'm hoping to continue to nurture the relationships we had this summer, even if our meetings can't be as impromptu as they occur during the summer months.
Afterall, how can you make things like spontaneous, "poor man's waterslide/ white trash slip 'n slide night" happen in the middle of the winter? I'm not sure either-- but I'm definitely going to keep these photos handy --ready to glance at on a cold winter day, when I need a reminder of the importance connections and sunshine play in our lives.
|I had great visions of a chummy, arms-around-each-other, big toothy grin photo, but this is as close as I came to that shot with two three year olds and a two year old.|