We've just had a long weekend. A glorious one, at that. I think one of my favourite things about living in the US is the unique cultural ability to bookmark seasons with holidays. Every new season is heralded in with a day off, helping those of us who didn't grow up here know exactly when and how to turn the page. It makes sense, in a country as geographically and culturally varied as the US to have set days where everyone comes together and agrees to move on to the next phase, whether it seems obvious or not. It's a way of maintaining a shared year.
This one was Labor Day. The basic equivalent of May Day in Europe, but with less rioting. Labor Day is the start of Autumn. This made absolutely zero difference to anything in Los Angeles, where the schools go back at the beginning of August and the heat only intensifies throughout September, the kind of heat that seeps up through the soles of your shoes and makes any activity seem beyond reason. And for the most part it was hard to see how it was the start of Autumn this weekend. The sun blazed in the brightest blue sky. We went to our local outdoor pool, floating and splashing then repeating. Husband and the kids made an epic den in the back garden, built around the outdoor table and chairs.
But something felt different. The tables and chairs will need to come in soon. They are starting to sink in to the grass, which is now peppered with leaves. The breeze made getting out the outdoor pool a little less pleasant than before. It's closed until next May, now. Tomorrow we're meeting some new friends at the indoor one. Target was full of Halloween decorations; leaf garlands and things that say 'Thankful' on them. So we attempted to mix the last of summer with the first of fall. New winter boots and tights for the big one and plenty of ice in our water bottles. Bike rides and baking banana bread (spotting alliteration is K's newest trick. She says "Hey! They all start with B!" and for some reason my head explodes every.single.time because how? How is she big enough to work that out? Is that normal? Her brain must be so busy all the time. It also is a testament to the excellent work of PBS. Ha.)
I got a new bike for my birthday. It's called Glenda after the bike in a book I happened to pick up at the library at the same time I went to the bike shop (The Sweetness in the Bottom of the Pie- highly recommended for anyone else who happens to like period murder mysteries...) but cycling around our neighbourhood has definitely added to the sense of change in the air. The freedom of flying down the street with the wind in my hair feels so achingly familiar. I can hardly explain it without descending into a slew of cliches, but riding a bike is exactly lie riding a bike. With every peddle I am riding every bike I've ever ridden in my whole life. From teaching myself to go without training wheels in our back garden, to the time my church youth group rode around Millport and all got so sunburned we looked like lobsters in their cages on the harbour. And yet now I have a trailer with two very loud passengers on the back. And the bike was to get me to places we all actually need to be, like school and the shops, whilst I wait for my license to be sorted out (this is a LONG and BORING story about visas and local DMV offices and it will end soon. I hope.) I've never cycled to get anywhere before. Riding a bike has been the ultimate in freedom to this point. But as autumn starts to draw in, I need to watch the clock.
And after 5 long years, I am so unbelievably ready for autumn. To not be so goddamn hot ALL the time. To use hot drinks and blankets and sweaters to make myself warm rather than having it forced upon me sounds so unbelievably glorious, I can hardly believe it's real. I am brilliantly, marvellously excited to draw the curtains and hibernate. This summer has been one of epic change for us all, and autumn represents the 'getting on with it'. Routine and structure somehow imply a sense of belonging, and as we establish ourselves more and more, roots spreading a little wider and a little deeper, the thought of a rest of sorts is so achingly appealing.
Labor Day worked its magic. This morning as I loaded the kids into the bike trailer, I added sweaters and jeans and pedalled through grey clouds and damp air. When the baby and I got home, we turned on lamps and lit candles and munched on the banana bread we made together yesterday, when the sun blazed and the heat from the oven felt stifling. Of course it won't last, it's not supposed to. We ease in to new seasons, rather than trip. But I'll take what I can get.
(Truly and honestly, 97% of my excitement about autumn is not having to shave my legs constantly. So there is that.)