Falling

The season of snuggling, sniffling, baking and raking has arrived. The black walnuts are bopping me on the head and rolling under my boots as I walk the driveway. The giant sycamore leaves come drifting down like crunchy, brown and red parachutes. Manic squirrels chase each other from tree to tree and hop the tightrope telephone wires over our heads as I sit on the front steps with my daughter in the early morning, waiting for her school bus to squeak to a halt in front of our house.

Kids are bundled in added layers, and my dog and cat are fluffy and frolicking joyfully in the falling leaves. There is change in the air. I almost expect any minute now to look up and see Mary Poppins floating in for a landing.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I am afraid to turn on the heat because we cannot afford heating oil. Everyone has the beginnings of a cold. The garden is showing signs of giving up the ghost–tomatoes either rotting on the ground or firm and green on rotting vines. I can’t decide whether to pick them and hope that they’ll ripen, or leave them for the birds and bugs. Soon, it will be time to till everything under and mulch. I plan to cover it all with newspaper until next season. But that seems like such an effort on a chilly day. I’m such a wimp when it comes to the cold weather.

All week long, I’ve lived in my UGGs, two oversized sweatshirts and a pair of huge, khaki shorts. Since I spend most of my day sitting on my butt in front of the computer, I don’t much think about how I look, but every now and then, I have reason to make an effort not to embarrass my family. Yesterday, for instance, I got a call from the school nurse about my son. He needed to come home, and I was halfway to my car when it dawned on me that I could ruin his life by showing up at his school looking the way I looked. I had been working in the garden and helping to carry fenceposts for the new fence, so I had actual dirt smeared across the front of my Cape May sweatshirt, but it was the khaki shorts and snow boot combination that really worked the look. That, and the fact that I had not brushed my hair in a couple of days. You just don’t think of things like that when your office is in the attic of your house!

Anyway, I made a few quick adjustments, pulled my hair back into a ponytail and changed into a pair of dirty sneakers with no socks–a compromise between looking the way I usually look and looking like someone’s disheveled, but otherwise normal mom. I was too lazy to change the dirty sweatshirt, but they stuck a “visitor” sticker over the smears when I got to the school, and my green around the gills kid barely looked up at me as I took his hand to lead him to the car. Back to mommy role–chicken soup, warm blankets, the back of my hand on his forehead, my palm cupping his cheek. We watch television together on the sofa–our feet sticking out of the blankets at opposite ends of the sofa. I put my UGGs back on and tread to the kitchen to make him a snack, and I’m glad that I work from home so that I can be there to comfort my kid when he’s not feeling well. Messy appearance notwithstanding, I am proud that I am able to be with my son when he needs me. And I love wearing shorts, sweatshirts and UGGs in the Fall.

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