Facing the Fall of Change

Written by Kath, a mom without a blog

It’s fall across most of our country. The long, warm days of summer have given rise to brisk mornings and evenings; the sun is lower in the sky, and days are shorter. It’s fall out here in the desert as well, but the signs aren’t as obvious. You really have to look for them.

Fall in Phoenix means we open our windows again. Of course, this only happens in the early morning and late evening hours when the temps dip to the 70s or so. But still…we OPEN our WINDOWS. We haven’t done this since, seriously, May. Watching my curtains sway a little in the morning breeze is a little bit of heaven for me.

We don’t have the usual “look” of fall here, either. Our trees (for the most part) don’t turn color and drop their leaves. Oh, sure, a few do. They are scattered among the masses of desert trees (mesquites and palo verdes) and palm trees which pretty much stay green year-round. So the minority of trees that do change get sort of lost in the greenery.

I feel sorry that my kids don’t get to experience the traditional fall. My 5-year old daughter has only seen fall leaves in picture books or Charlie Brown specials. So last weekend, my husband and I packed up our three kids into our SUV and headed north for the weekend.

The usual noise and chatter of conversation and DVDs playing became a hush as we hit the dirt road and started the climb up the mountain. We rolled down our windows and breathed deeply the clean, crisp mountain air. And then, my kids began to see them. Small clusters of yellow and orange at first. But then we saw the maples. Oh, those glorious maples in their pinks, reds, oranges, fuchsias, rusts….so absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. I turned around and watched my kids’ eyes soaking up the sights. Their “oohs” and “aahhs”, their squeals of delight…it was quite a moment.

We got settled in to our destination and went for a walk. Approaching the first oak tree, my daughter picked up an acorn off the ground.

“What’s this, Mama?”

“That’s an acorn, honey.”

Pause. Turning and examining the acorn in her little hand. “Like the one from Ice Age?”

“Yep, just like it.” Note to self….make this trip EVERY year with the kids.

There was just something so beautiful and comforting in the magnificence of pure nature. The colors were so vibrant. It’s an extraordinary sight to behold, but the trees were just doing what they were SUPPOSED to do—they were changing.

When we returned to Phoenix, I was telling a friend about the beautiful sights up north. Her reply stunned me a bit.

“Oh, I lived on the east coast and HATED fall,” she said. “The leaves changing color always made me depressed and anxious, knowing that the trees would soon be totally bare and that winter would set in.”

Wow. That thought had literally never occurred to me. I guess since I’ve lived in the desert most of my life, I didn’t realize that fall for some people (who live in areas where the winters are brutal) would be so anxiety-provoking.

It reminds me of a time in my life when I saw that things were “changing.” When I anticipated what would come with dread, fear, and anxiety. I know what that feeling is like. It’s scary. The unknown always is.

I’m currently in one of those moments again in my life. The subtle colors are there signaling a change that I know deep down is coming. It makes me frightened of the “barren tree.” I don’t want to think about it.

But here’s the deal. If I spend my days focusing only on the bare tree, I’ll miss the beauty of the fall. I won’t see the rich golds, bright reds, and deep browns. I might miss the very best part of all because I can’t stop thinking about what’s to come.

So, today, I will enjoy the fall. I will soak up the hues and try to imprint the images in my brain, so that I may NEVER forget.

Because when the leaves fall, it’s true the tree becomes bare. But what happens next is that the leaves break down and nourish the tree; for when spring comes, new buds will appear. And the hope of those new leaves…leaves that have been fed by the ones that came before, comforts me.

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