This rest of this summer was brutally dry and hot, but now our mid-August weather has mellowed into a gentle respite of 70-degree days. With a cool breeze at night, sleep comes easier and deeper. (At last. I never sleep well in the summer.) And after that, these mornings are just right for steaming cups of coffee on the patio. I love this. The very end of summer signifies a turn to my favorite season, fall, and I usually call these weeks of changing weather “Pre-Autumn” in anticipation. I spend them obsessively dreaming about piles of leaves, apple cider, flannel shirts, butternut squash (not spaghetti squash – I will never eat that again), mugs of chili topped with sour cream, wool sweaters, hot tea, crisp mornings, thick socks, and orchard apples. Also, school supplies. I can’t get enough. I love the feel of paper, the tab dividers on folders, the sharp open-close of the rings on 3-ring-binders, and, second only to sticky post-its, I love writing with regular sharpened wood pencils. I usually indulge myself in some unnecessary stationery purchases during this time because that urge to browse the school supply aisles is so overwhelming.
“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” – Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail.
This year I join my teacher-friends in a collective mid-August panic attack because school is starting. On Monday I leave this state of suspense and enter my favorite season with exciting challenges that will stretch me in many different ways for ministry and business. (And luckily, I feel like the business is a bit of a ministry, too.) There are thirty-one students registered for fall semester piano lessons, I’m leading a group of other ladies in my Bible study program, I’m on a Sunday-School rotation at church, and I’m directing six academic subjects for a group of ten home-school students in 8th and 9th grades. It was a huge leap for us when I quit my job and let my marketable skills and budding entrepreneurial spirit take us into uncharted income territory, and it’s wonderful to see this dream coming to fruition. I’m overjoyed that this is happening, but I’m also hyperventilating every time I look ahead to how much is already filled in on my calendar.
But I think fall is a great time to be stretched. Nature will provide some important lessons, because I know there is a lot that has to die and fall away in my life during the next few months. I’m thrilled about my new adventures, but also very aware that last year’s leisure is almost entirely over. There will be a lot of dying-to-self required this year. There is beauty in that mortification. And there are also freshly-sharpened pencils, so I’m sure it will all be okay!