by Julia Buckley
There's something about fall that makes me nostalgic, and when I see photographs of autumns past, I feel even more so. In this particular shot, my two-year-old son Graham (in a Batman cape made out of an old skirt of his grandmother's) wields a rake too big for him so that he can do adult-type things. Graham is famous for a moment of fierce independence, when a parent said "Graham, let me help you," and he said, "Ah hep mah self."
His brother Ian, almost five, has a tell-tale leaf stuck to his back which reveals that this raking is not about having a neat yard, but about having a huge leaf pile. He is wielding another tool that I don't recognize, but it looks like some sort of plastic toy. I'm fairly certain that they leaped into the leaves not long after this picture was taken.
Ironically, if I asked these same boys (now fourteen and seventeen) to rake leaves today, there would be a great deal of push-back. They no longer jump in the leaves, although they do occasionally wrestle on the ground, sometimes good-naturedly pretending to kill each other, other times actually trying to kill each other. Most of my autumn is spent carting them around--to school, to a job, to movies. If I call them from one of my own jobs, they are almost certain to be on a video game or the computer. Autumn today is filled with you-tube, Facebook, and simulated war games, none of which really bring them up close to the lovely scent of the moist earth and the fragrant leaves.
I'd be a hypocrite, especially since I'm sitting here writing for a blog, if I didn't admit that I, too, am spending far less time outside thanks to my laptop. Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube, blogging and writing all take up time that I used to have ten years ago. I'm actually reading less and walking less, but spending a great deal of time chained to my computer, not only for my two jobs, but for my "freelance" career of writing.
The only outside time I spent today was to drive to the grocery store and back--pretty sad--and yet I didn't get half of the things on my indoor checklist finished.
Autumns of the past seemed more full of time, full of weekend fun like zoo visits, backyard fire pit marshmallow roasts, impromptu fall trips, and family walks. Autumn now seems more about obligations of all sorts--but not necessarily the fun kind. :)
I suppose this says something about the seasons of life. Ian is looking at colleges--he graduates this year. Graham graduates, too, from eighth grade, and then my little boys will officially be a thing of the past. Time is moving them onward and making me feel more urgent. The "so much to do, so little time" mentality applies to life now as I try to scrounge up college payments and try to prepare for a lot of unknowns.
Wise Buddha advised, "Do not dwell on the past; do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment."
So, despite the fact that autumn is different now, I'm determined to appreciate it for what it is. And darn it, I pledge to walk on those leaf-strewn sidewalks. To prove it, I'll post pictures of my fall odyssey next Monday.