The leaves are starting to turn, here in the Pacific Northwest. The mornings are increasingly misty and the days are just a bit cooler. Whatever hot days may come may slow autumn’s inexorable advance, but nothing can stop the inevitable. The sun is setting on summer.
Here we are, at the turning of the seasons. It’s time to wax poetic, o observe the contrast between the carefree days of summer and the hustle and bustle that accompanies the return to school and work and routine of autumn.
Actually, the hustle and bustle tends to infringe on the time one might have to devote to such pursuits as waxing poetic, but I still think the pursuit is a worthy one if you can swing it.
My summer was not relaxed and carefree. It started with a flurry of activity: baseball games, parties, ballet recitals and such followed immediately by the start of the kids’ day camp, where they were outside all day and would come home literally covered in dirt. In other words, they were doing summer right.
In the meantime, Alissa and I had a move to plan. There was a lot of uncertainty. We knew the where, but not the when, as we were dependent on a bank approving a short sale to our landlords.
It was hard. This was to be the last move for a long time, the one that would land us in a situation ripe for the community that we have been craving for the last decade. There’s a lot more to it; prayer and waiting and ignoring the ticking of the clock in favor of the whisperings of our hearts that told us everything would work, all probability to the contrary.
The clock really didn’t work in our favor. We ended up moving twice, once to my mom’s (and our stuff to storage) and then to our new home four weeks later.
But, after a frenzied summer getting ready for the move, then weeks replacing key furniture pieces that we chose to part with (like our bed), all the while worrying that some piece of the whole puzzle would fall through, we moved into our new home, just in time for the last week of day camp.
But now, the kids are in school. It’s odd to say, but sliding back into that school routine is calming if not exactly relaxing. There’s something about the repetition of reviewing homework and packing lunches that is normalizing, even when surrounded by boxes.
We’ve got a long way to go before considering ourselves settled. There’s still work being done on the house. We spent the weekend without hot water, so that cut into some of our ability to carry out basic tasks like laundry. But we got our coffee table assembled. We found the hardware for Harry’s bed and put his room together. We got the recliner set out and listed to give away. You can enter our house through the front door and the garage and not risk tripping over a box along either route: small victories, but victories nonetheless.
So our summer was not relaxing and carefree, but that’s okay because in that stress and chaos, there were good times: evenings in the park and berry picking in Cashmere and taking a Friday afternoon off to go see the kids in their camp skits and get togethers with our church group while hoards of kids ran through the house and the yard. We are learning how, against our (or at least my) nature to find ways to enjoy life even in the midst of difficulty and chaos, and that’s a good thing.
But here’s the really good news. In the sacrifice of the carefree nature of this summer, I can see the fruits. We’re getting to know our neighbors. Our kids have already made friends. There was a sense of community in the neighborhood, before we ever moved in, and it’s a welcoming one that we’ve already been able to tap into and hopefully contribute to. And that’s the vision, the hope that’s been carrying us through this crazy time in our lives. Our lives were good in the condo. They got better in our last house, and I can easily see them getting better once again as we move into our new house.
That’s an important thing. We’ve always had it good, even if there were parts that weren’t ideal, but there’s always room for improvement. I don’t mean that in a “grass is always greener” sense. That ‘s a recipe for constant dissatisfaction. And I don’t mean that our goal is to move from this house and neighborhood into a “better” one.
In this case, the improvement is in putting down roots for the long haul and immersing ourselves in the life of our community, our church, our school. It’s about building relationships, friendships with our neighbors. It’s about opening our home even if there are still dishes in the sink and a hamper of laundry waiting to be taken to the garage. It’s sitting around our table talking to friends after the kids have gone to bed and putting off that grocery run for a day, because friends are more important than groceries.
That’s the improvement this time. That’s what we want to put into action. And that vision, that faith that we’ve been put here, against all reasonable probability, is what has sustained us through a crazy, uncertainty-laden summer.
But now, we’re home. Now we can take the time to build that life that we want for our family, and that’s worth a wild, uncertain summer.