The leaves are really coming down now. Each wave of rain, each gust of wind, more leaves like tree shadows skirt the ground. It is so beautiful and temporary. Poetic and melancholy. Once it dries a bit my neighbors will fire up their blowers, one or 2 more times yet this season, and then all of the color will have left, sucked up and out of the year. Then we will really be in our downward, darkward march. Northern Winter. I love it and I also dread it. It is so deep, so endless, and until we get big snow, so immensely dark. We all must self-generate our light. Which is one thing to say and another thing entirely to do. It is not a concept here, it is an imperative. Build the light inside, or slip away.
I really do love it. Every year at this time, at Halloween, at Samhain, I feel the thinning of the veil between worlds, the seemingly real and the hidden, like a thinning of my skin, a tenderizing of my soul. And I get so ready, so eager, for casting off all of my color, my bright summer persona, and just embarking on the real with myself. With my people. With you.
Every morning Eider crawls into bed with me and with a mix of excitement and desperation, asks me when it will snow??? He has always done this. Maple too. Once the leaves begin to change and fall it is a daily and almost urgent ask. Winter calling to them. The cold. The play. The deep expansive quiet. Breath melting snow. Their affection for the season has transformed my heart in relationship to winter. Where for many years there was dread, now sits a soft and eager invitation. A sweet readiness. A hello. I hope it is always like this, my heart lit up by the magic of winter that my kids planted there.
Chris has been away all week, 2 moderate trips consolidated into one longer one, the result of having flown unexpectedly out to Maine the week before. It is not unusual for me to be on my own for long stretches with the kids and the house and the animals and the home schooling and the teaching… it is part of our design. The kids and I are quite good at it, falling into our own rhythm and flow. I enjoy it and yet it is also hugely exhausting for me as I attempt to do it all, inevitably shaving things down at the end of the week. And while my kids are both used to it and do well without their papa for a spell, it is always more difficult for Eider who depends on Chris in a way unique to their relationship and so distinct from me. It was especially challenging this week as Eider is in the middle of processing really big feelings in the wake of our friend’s passing.
Intuitively, I know to keep Eider more busy in general. He needs a tighter schedule than Moo. His idle time can unfurl often into the overly somber and melancholy, and now is no time for extra of either. He loves the things that he is involved in. They are well rooted in the fabric of his life. A beautiful mixture of sport and music, wild play and thoughtful skill. And this week, I was so glad to watch the ways in which those activities and their resulting relationships support him as he processes grief and looks with new light at his own moods and feelings, seeing them both with a bit more weight- more at stake in each.
This showed up for him in everything this week. In soccer as he had to navigate back from a fierce temper, apologize, own his emotions, and move on without shame. In fiddle as he acknowledged the sublime joy of playing with a group of people and how that high is long lasting and delicious in ways that a video game seldom is. And in his Wild Harvest group on Friday, when he let it all out with his mentor and a friend. Made bare the story of what happened and his pain and sadness and despair at the permanency of that choice. I’ve spoken about that before in this space, the gift of mentorship in my kids lives, in my own, and it was never more clear than it was this week. He revealed his heart and was held there, and seen. Acknowledged in a way that is so different than simply trying to make it better and alleviate the discomfort of big feelings.
I am so lucky for this support in our lives. But make no mistake, it didn’t just happen. I sought it out, we sought it out. We have chosen to fill our lives with more engagement that keeps us up close to the real and are wary of too many of the trappings of the sleeping world. It is hard to be alive, and we each need all of the help that we can get. Not the help that steers us away, but the help that keeps us close to the truth in our hearts. The tenderness there. The vulnerability. The deep capacity to endure.
I am also beyond lucky to have a spouse that makes himself available no matter how far away he is, to gently walk his kids back into heart and into breath and into grace and into love. And that bears mentioning. When something is right, when something is good, when something works: say it. Take note. Pay attention to that as best you can so that you may build up deep reserves of connection to what is sweet in your life. Because many times, that is what it takes to carry you through the darkness and into the Light.