She’s here. The wind gently whispers her arrival, and the first set of leaves begin to fall. I push the stroller with one hand, hold my warm mug of coffee in the other, and slowly make my way back home. The big kids are at school now. For the next few hours they will play, learn, and make friends. All on their own. For the next few hours, it’s just me with my baby daughter and baby nephew. We will eat, play, sing, and read. Fingers crossed they will nap well too. Our walk is quite peaceful this morning. It’s just what I need to settle into the day. It’s just what I need to get ready to greet her: Hello, Autumn.
The tree-covered path is still damp from yesterday’s rain. I maneuver the stroller to avoid the muddy patches, but notice that the tires have already begun to collect the first fallen leaves. I watch the brown and yellow colors spin with the wheels as I continue down the path. Some remain stuck to the wheels while others slip off. A gust of wind releases more leaves into the air. I reach out to touch one. It is time to welcome this new season.
The last time the leaves began to change and fall, I was preparing to greet my new daughter. I could hardly wait to see the brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. I could hardly wait for her arrival. And finally, one October day a big gust of wind came and she was here. I held her tiny body close to my chest while the final leaves fell. I watched her so close, waiting for those first smiles and intentional movements while the snow covered everything around us. Then fresh buds began to speckle the bare branches, and our baby girl delighted us with constant babbling and her growing personality. As the temperature began to rise and the trees became lush with leaves, I watched my daughter learn to crawl, pick grass out of the lawn, and feed herself watermelon. And now, well now I’m listening to her say “Wow!” as she notices the leaves too.
Autumn is beautiful, but the perfectly crisp morning air and vibrant colors never last long enough here in Minnesota. The changing of the leaves will peak soon, and before we know it, the branches will be bare once again. We hold on tight to this fleeting beauty, and we are abruptly forced to let it all go. I watch another wave of leaves fall around us. These leaves that were not here last year and are now suddenly ready to be released from the branches they grew from and clung to over spring and summer. They are released, and more leaves will grow next year, and the year after that. And while I’m reluctant to accept that this season is already beginning to swiftly flee, this new season does bring the promise of space and time for new leaves to grow.
I push the stroller through the waves of falling leaves and acknowledge that this beautiful season with my third baby has already begun to culminate too. She is inching closer to toddlerhood. There are many more firsts to come for her, but this first wave of firsts is so precious. With each child, I held on so tight to their first big moments, and with each baby time forced me to let go so quickly. It all begins, and changes, and passes by swiftly. The leaves continue to fall and glide through the air around me. I collect a few from the damp ground as I make my way back home. These leaves are lovely, and although they are released too quickly, they are mine to press and keep forever in my heart.