The Conversion of Seasons
Welcoming winter in the Midwest
My green rubber boots sink in the soft earth. The grass is vibrant, nearly neon; it brushes against my soles and is tangled with wet brown leaves that rustle but don’t crunch. As I march through the lawn, I pick up my feet higher than needed. I like the squishing sound.
It’s not quite cold enough to see my breath. I don’t even zip up the down vest I’m wearing, but I stuff my tender hands, not yet weathered from the approaching winter’s dryness, in its lined pockets. I feel the chill that rests comfortably under my nose, touching my top lip. I sense the slightest drip on the edge of my nostril.
My 3-year-old daughter runs through the yard in many layers: a short-sleeved dress, a long-sleeved zip-up hoodie, a down vest (like her mama’s), long leggings, socks. It takes multiple requests to get her to dress appropriately. Every morning, she says, “Pick out a dress,” which is quickly followed by, “Don’t want to wear pants.”
I regretfully inform her that summer is over, that it’s too cold for shorts, that this is the season we’re in now; there will be no going back, not for a while.
She resists the change, as do we all.
It is not quite 50 degrees outside, but there is no wind, and my daughter grabs the container of bubbles abandoned on the deck since August. Her motor skills are refined enough that she can twist it open and pull out its wand, which she swats in the air to produce those magical iridescent orbs that float around her. She giggles and smiles and reaches out a finger to pop them mid-air.
Her father and I carry her playhouse to the shed. She follows alongside, stopping to point at the bare bushes. “No more blackberries,” she says.
“No more blackberries, not until next year,” I confirm.
My husband shuffles around the shed contents, pushing the patio table to the side, nudging the lawn mower against the wall to make room for the playhouse. My leg brushes the fire pit that we never got around to using this summer. These items will sleep here in the dark until spring when the doors open and the light comes in again.
Dusk is already settling in, even though we have yet to make dinner. My husband scrubs the grill with a wire brush. There is just enough room left for it in the shed. My daughter hops on her trampoline, worn from a summer of sun and rain and constant use. Her blonde curls hang in the air a second longer than her body. Her cheeks are starting to turn a bright pink.
“I think it’s time to go in,” I tell her.
“Don’t want to go in,” she answered.
“I know. But it’s getting cold and dark out here.”
“Want to stay outside.”
She wants summer to last forever. She wants playgrounds and swimming pools and to run through the tall wet grass. I want that, too.
But I also want this. The brisk air. The cold hands. The warm vests. The soft twilight of a world slowing down, of a world going to sleep.