My feet are bare even though the grass is cold in the early mornings now. It’s as if those icy drops of dew are there to send a warning from the bottoms of my feet straight to my soul. “Soon”, it says, “you won’t round this bend every morning looking for vegetables to nourish your family. Soon, you’ll be staying in.”
With tender fingers, fingers touching life as if for the last time, I cut back the tangle of vines that were only recently so heavy with cucumbers. Just as gently, I pull tomatoes from the plants that didn’t fare well and lay them to rest in the soft dirt where they will compost, leaving their untapped potential behind to nourish the next generation. Then I pull the whole plant from the ground, shake the root ball to loosen what is left of the dirt and let it fall back to the ground. I say goodbye to the spider that has terrified me all summer long, never knowing exactly where it was in the tangle of plants that I slipped my arms into each morning, it’s intricate web flying like a caution flag over my sacred space, empty.
Inside, I’m gathering. Tiny sunglasses, chipped; almost empty bottles of sunscreen; pool cards; hair ties; water toys. As I drop these items back into our well-worn straw bag there’s a release of smells, sweet watermelon juice, pool water, sweat, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Sun Chips, fresh cut grass, my sun kissed boys, and in this moment I swear that happiness has a scent. I cradle that bag in my arms, like a child, and walk it down to the basement. Not unlike a jar of my favorite strawberry jam, I hoist the bag on a shelf to be put up until next summer.
As I begin saucing apples, pulling canned pumpkin from the back of the shelf, I watch my little ones run through the house in Halloween costumes, too excited to wait until the end of the month. I think about resident spiders, lovely memories of a summer well spent tucked away in a straw bag, plants pulled from the ground or cut off to ‘soft compost’, and I am reminded that these things all serve a purpose. As for the spider, well I’ve come to decide that resident spiders are there to remind us to be present and mindful of our daily tasks. I think about lying to rest our plants that have fed and nourished us in more ways than one all summer long, a true testament that nothing is permanent. Putting up the pool bag, preserving summer’s memories, is another lesson, one in gratitude.
Autumn is here, the days of golden light have arrived, and deep in me I know that all is well. As I look down I am brought back to the moment. I see the ingredients set out before me now, there’s a loaf of pumpkin bread to bake, and I know a certain cowboy and a superhero who are eager to help.