Tonight I felt it for the first time. There is a change of seasons in the air, a little chill sidling up to my summer evening. I knew it was coming. I have been waiting, anticipating the cool nights and crisp bright autumn mornings that is all the seasonal change Southern California can muster. Here our days are deceitful. An October day might bring a triple digit blast of heat known locally as a Santa Ana wind – or “East Wind” to the real old timers – but the evenings give themselves away. Summer slips out of our grasp one hour at a time, with the earlier setting of the sun. Granted, it never completely leaves us…here in the land of winter sun summer can make a mischievous appearance in January, if she so chooses. And sweater-weather isn’t relegated to January! In fact, it a June-gloom morning is as likely to require an extra layer as the winter months, and the Fourth of July’s fireworks are nearly always accompanied by snuggling together under a light quilt as we watch the fog roll in to meet the smoky remnants of the rockets’ red glare.
I’m feeling another change of seasons in the air, too. Sidling up, grasping at my heartstrings, tugging insistently at the corners of my mind is the knowledge that a change in my life’s season is lurking just a few flips of the calendar away. I had just acclimated to the fact that I have a daughter graduated from college and working full time. I had approached that transition gingerly, like dipping my toe into middle age. But the water was fine, and I went wading right on in. Having one child grown and self-sufficient isn’t so different. It’s the evenings that give it away, you know. The days are deceitful. With the younger kids to get through school, my days have had the same rhythm as they have for twenty years. Research for lessons, grading papers, park days, and bleacher-sitting fill my every waking hour just as they have for two decades now. But, in the evenings there is a silence that creeps around the house occasionally, only to be interrupted by the whoops and hollering that I know and love.
I have noticed it more, this second time around. Our second child packed up and moved off to college just last weekend, and the normal rhythm is noticeably off a bit. He is a big presence, and leaves a large hole in our day with his absence. I can’t help looking at his younger brother as well, realizing that this little world of mine is beginning to wobble in its orbit. My universe is still spinning round, but a change is coming. Soon my days will not be characterized by barely organized chaos, but by a smooth, empty page of time stretching out before me, waiting. For so long, my task-oriented heart has reveled in the sheer exhilaration of riding life like a roller-coaster, barreling from one thing to the next, flying here and there, slowing down only to relish the camaraderie that is our family life.
Most seasons I have welcomed, having envisioned them, planned for them, and rejoiced in their coming. This season is different. I have never pictured what this portion of my calendar might hold. I’m not eager to begin it, and I’m glad that like the Southern California autumn, the season will change slowly, hour by hour introducing me to the next page on my planner. There is no worry, just a sense of nostalgia for each “last” thing we do now. When will be the last camping trip for the five of us? The last Holiday before we are joined by a newly married-in member? Ultimately, I look forward with eyes of faith to the next season being just as fulfilling, just as sweet as each that has come before in its turn. I do not know the future, but I rest confidently in the protection of He who does. I feel a change in the nighttime breeze, So glad I can trust the One who sent it.