The blanket of soggy oak leaves appeared overnight. Just the previous evening, I told my husband we needed to water that section of lawn before the whole thing turned brittle and blew off in a parade of tiny tumbleweeds.
It's dying! I warned. It's not supposed to rain for weeks! Say goodbye to your precious grass! It's gone, I tell you! Gone!
At this point, I think I may have dramatically shriveled into a ball on the floor, Wicked Witch-style:
"You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!!..."
That's about the time the clouds rolled in, and the rain started, and Randy tried not to look smug. He watched football. I quietly prepared a pot of jambalaya. The kids asked for hot chocolate.
And just like that, it was autumn.
Every year, I marvel at the dizzying change of seasons. One day we're smelling like sunscreen and cursing the heat. The next, I'm ordering firewood and baking pumpkin pie.
And the children, I tell myself, their seasons shift even more quickly. This fall it's especially noticeable. The jeans are longer and the shoes bigger, yes, but there's something more subtle.
Hannah practices violin without being asked. She helps with dinner. She babysits. She paints her nails. She also texts her friends and rolls her eyes and gives a Facebook thumbs-up to phrases like, "I'm not cranky, you're annoying!"
Jack, my 10-year-old, straddles cute and cool. I try not to be upset when he pulls his hand away from mine at the mall, because I know he'll still let me kiss him goodnight.
As suddenly as the school year began, our schedules filled with ballet, soccer, PTO. Almost without warning, the days seem as frantic as swirling leaves.
My friend Debbi walked over after dinner recently. "I miss you," she said, standing beside me as I stirred the jambalaya.
"Me, too," I told her, and poured two glasses of wine.
Our girls are the same age, sprinting toward adolescence. But this particular evening they were giggling in the basement, playing with dolls. Sammi played postpartum nurse, swaddling the baby and handing it to Hannah.
When they came upstairs I chuckled, realizing the doll was wearing one of my daughter's old outfits. Not long ago, when Hannah was a wrinkly, squinch-faced newborn and I was a sore, exhausted new mother, that tiny onesie swallowed her.
That was how many years ago? How many seasons? Too many to count. I held the onesie up to show Hannah how much she's grown. She smiled and I gave her a hug, recalling how her whole body once curled like a crescent moon against my chest.
Look what you've done! I told her. Oh, what a world! What a world.