Right on cue, the rains have fallen and the winds have begun to dust the alders and firs outside my home. Autumn is here! Down the gravel drive, unpicked blackberries lie limp on the vine, their leaves turning reddish and preparing to die down for the season. I am thankful for it. I love this season of putting things to rest, planning out winter handwork, and introverting more than usual, even for me. It’s more of a mosey time, where I’m really in no hurry to do much of anything at all. It’s also nice to put the kettle on and sit on the peeling outdoor table, taking in the mess of garden clean up with a friend that drops by, watching the late sunlight glint on bowed sunflowers and webby dill heads.
The treehouse is finished. Or should I say, the “tree mansion”. When I climbed up to have a good look around, I told my son, “Gee, this is will be a great studio for me! Thanks!” (har har) Occupants have a really good view of the long gravel driveway, so between the dogs and the air-soft guns, visitors ought to proceed with caution.
Music has begun again in earnest, and quartets are forming. Autumn is full of lovely days to have friends over and send out musical notes to harmonize with the birdies outside. These kids of mine (plus one!) are full of business venture ideas.
We’ve harvested lots and lots (and lots) of pumpkins and squashes. They practically took over the gardens! It is amazing how much food can come out of a garden.
And, yes, we live in the Pacific Northwest. And, no, we haven’t been on the receiving end of this many (RIPE) tomatoes for many, many years. It was that kind of summer, one we’ll remember in later years about how we got sick of fresh tomatoes and didn’t even cry at what was left rotting on the vines.
Myself, I took a little vacation. I went to Portland for four days to attend an art retreat and flew all around the city in my little 18 year old Honda with printed Google maps in hand. (Who needs a smart phone when you can chat to the locals?) I discovered Blick’s art supplies and many, many wonderful little shops full of vintage household goods and handmade papers and delicious homemade macaroons. And Stumptown Roasters, where after one visit the barista welcomed me to Portland and deftly punched out a complete card so that my next coffee was free. And $1.50 tacos and $3.75 cheeseburgers. And, of course, art!
This was the daily journal I began a month before the trip, fasting for 30 days from grains, dairy, sugars, legumes, and caffeine (even chocolate). I expected to feel amazing–to feel superhuman even–but at the end of it all, I finally went to my naturpath and was pronounced with *seasonal allergies*. Molds, spores, pollens, whatever….I guess I am ultimately allergic to the Pacific Northwest (sigh). But I can have my latte again. With a scone.
In addition to creating art, I went to a writing conference and spent two days out of my league and yet in the pool I wanted to swim in. I decided I had nothing to lose so raised my hand to practice my pitch to a publisher of 40 years in front of a class of writers…and was validated (and then spent the next 15 minutes outside chattering my teeth because I had been so nervous!) I offered to read my piece to a crowd, and after an encouragement to restart (I was so nervous I was reading too fast)…I was validated. I think what I came away with from that experience was: YES (publish) and YES (be very, very brave!).
To find the time to do those things (retreat, write…), my homeschooling box needed some reshaping. Speaking with Mona Lisa and Kip Harding was such an encouragement to me! Even after homeschooling for almost 16 years, I was still falling into the traps of comparing what I do with others, with the system, with my cultural and familial childhood standards. I needed to hear from this mama that every family home schools differently, and that with the Lord leading, it will bloom. I am learning to *relax* and this year I am acting more as a supervisor than an instructor. It is definitely taking me out of the box I’ve been living in, but I’m already seeing some good things from it. Did I mention that this is the year for me to be BRAVE? This year we are more kid-interest-directed.
Autumn is a good time to withdraw a little, to gather in the harvest and rethink the seeds to plant in the coming year. When changes are made, I find that creativity flows, even in household design. Furniture gets moved around, paint brushes come out. Here is our dining room, after a weekend of putting up paneling on one wall. I love how warm and cozy it made the room, and the bonus was that it was all made from scraps (unlike, say, that treehouse mansion!). We followed the directions here. I’ll show you my newly painted kitchen soon!
May your autumn be refreshing and a blessing to you, too!