Autumn Encroaches

By , August 16, 2012

According to the method by which we observe the seasons, autumn came to the homestead more than two weeks ago. We’ve just passed the family event that make mentioning autumn inpolitic in our household. Our natural harvesting cycle has reached full swing, the days are growing noticeably shorter, and the weather, which never felt really summery, tells us clearly that autumn has come.

Most significantly, today we’re observing an American cultural ritual that has cemented the season’s presence in our lives since Michelle and I were quite small: Aly departs for school today.

The Haines Zeigers

A favorite from a series of family self portraits taken recently (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

Her term actually won’t start for another month or so, but she’s going south early to set up a household with three friends off campus, and also attend her first rock concert ever. Hopefully, she’ll also find a good job to carry her through the school year. In fact, perhaps it’ll carry her further—since she’s leasing year ’round, it’d make a lot of sense for her to stay down south through next summer. We’ve advised her to do that, but hope she will return home to us next summer.

We knew this day would come too quickly, and it has. This parting feels far different than last year, when we drove her to college. That trip diverted our attention wonderfully. This year, we’ll put her on the ferry, wave to her as she departs, cool our heels in town until the tide drops enough, then hike home to a quieter, roomier, less exciting homestead.

As summer gives way to autumn, vibrant days fade, intense activities begin to wrap up, our life begins a slow enfolding inward as winter approaches. We’ll be a childless couple again, returning to the newly familiar rhythms of that lifestyle. Just the two of us (and the cat) on the homestead quickly becomes part of the cyclical rhythm of the seasons, slowly expanding year by year until Aly eventually moves away to begin her own life. That is, if she doesn’t realize her dream of building a treehouse on the property in which to live and raise a family . . . .

We survived her first year away, we’ll survive this one and all the others to come. While we’d much prefer that she stay home with us always, we’ve learned to find and appreciate the minor positive aspects of life without her. Insert your favorite aphorism about how life constantly changes here.

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