The afternoons still slurry into soft heat, but mornings are nose-ticklingly crisp. Munchkin’s school is only six blocks away – so each morning I bundle the kids into the bike trailer, spread a blanket over their knees, and pedal like mad to make it before the bell. Three weeks in and I’m still searching for predictable rhythm in our early hours… the wake ups and shower and eat your breakfast please I said eat your breakfast! cajoling. Lunch-packing happens while the kids breakfast and I might manage to eat an egg and drink a half cup of coffee, or not. More often not. Leisurely breakfast-eating (theirs) ends with the mad, chilly dash (mine) to the school. The playground swirls with frantic be-backpacked children before line-up happens and everyone marches into their classrooms – and then Elf swings for a bit before we meander home.
The irony of insisting Munchkin wear pants, pull on a sweatshirt, take a raincoat… this is not lost on me when I shed layers, snake-like, in the early afternoon. Early afternoons are filled with harvesting the garden remnants and picking the last of the apples, roasting tomatoes, eying the mounting pile of zucchini that must be shredded and frozen. The sun beats down on my back, the deep smell of the earth and still-laden tomato vines fills my nostrils. The frosts are late this year, everyone agrees. Small batches of canned tomatoes and applesauce line my basement shelves, and chicken stock for the freezer bubbles away on the stovetop. Fall is my nesting time, my drawing in and stocking up and sweatering up time.
Fitting writing and business work in is easier these days. I have dedicated Elf’s naptime to my work-time – writing and photographing art and refining my dreams. My drive to make something of my art and writing has returned full force after late summer’s hiatus, and my brain churns from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down for sleep.
In mid-afternoon, I pedal toward the school, steadily this time, enjoying the tension in my thighs and the smooth glide over asphalt. At the school grounds, Elf swings while we wait for Munchkin to appear, lined up with his class against the brick wall. Their little arms and hands go up as they spot parents, and suddenly the line is an undersea garden, tentacles waving wildly in the thick, hot air.
I have exactly 2.5 blocks before Munchkin starts asking for his leftover lunch. Their lunch break is short – criminally so, in my opinion. He asks just as I pedal past the parking lot at the nearby neighborhood park. Two stop signs down, two more and a short bridge to go. At home it is a clock-race to put in enough calories in Munchkin’s body before the tired cranky melt-down monster rages out of control. If it does, chaos reigns and I take deep breaths to rally, to put dinner on the stove, to only take one glance at the clock every five minutes instead of every three. I pat myself on the back when I win. So far I win less days than I lose, but I learn, and rally. Each week I implement a new strategy and the battle is just a little less hard fought.
These days are my soup, the nourishing broth of creativity and divine craziness alike and aching gratitude of our plenty. The taste of it lingers in my mouth, warming for those chilled mornings, good for those achingly hot afternoons, and soothing the slow slide into evening winter.