This month I’ve been like a little kid whose just been told he can have as much candy as he wants.  The only catch is that he has a very short amount of time to grab as much as his grubby little hands can hold.  In short, I’ve been grabbing fistfuls of summer and stuffing them in my pockets like a greedy five year old hoarding as much of the sweet stuff as I can carry.

Isaac- triathlonIsaac’s second triathlon in Sparta– he came in third in his age group and had a blast.  For a guy who really doesn’t get into organized sports, he can rock the swim, bike, run.

art club signArt Club at the Surry Early College is off and running for its second year.  An amazing group of kids and an excuse to stop and make stuff– every week!  What could be better?  So far we’ve been working on contour drawings and figure drawing with models.  I’ve been harboring a secret desire to learn more about illustration, so it’s nice to have an afternoon to work on it– and with free instruction from some pretty talented kids.

selfie in the airportSelfies (I hate that word) at the airport.

We were waiting to board for a long weekend in Orlando where we finally visited Epcot and Medieval Times.  I have to tell you that I assumed Medieval Times would be a fairly cheesy tourist trap, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had.  In the words of Isaac, wearing his crown, a stein of Sprite in one hand and a chicken leg in the other, “This is my kind of restaurant– fighting and eating with my hands!”  Yeah.

There were jousting matches and sword fights and we got to cheer for our knight– the guy next to us was a HUGE fan of our knight, but it was all in good fun, and Harper Lee won Queen of the Tournament when our knight offered her his banner after winning his match.

outside the lego storeAnd there was the much anticipated stop at Downtown Disney for the LEGO store.

The rest of the month has been mostly school, school, and more school, which– surprisingly– has been much better than I had imagined.  I was so worried about the transition into middle school and third grade, but so far, this has been one of Isaac’s best years, and Harper Lee is enjoying the new freedom of middle school– student council, community projects and soccer.  But during the in-between– after school and on the weekends– we’ve squeezed out a few more drops of summer sweetness and savored the ever shortening days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKickin’ up his heels at Stone Mountain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of our many swimming holes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARob strumming his guitar for us around the campfire

swimming in mitchell riverAnother favorite swimming hole in the Mitchell River

sunset at mitchell riverThe sun setting on the other side of the river

view in franklinA long weekend with good friends in Franklin, NC– the annual fall writing retreat.  This was the view from my bedroom.

Yesterday, I swept piles (seriously, PILES) of acorns from the back patio.  It’s one of the first sure signs of fall.  That and the red berries on the dogwood tree.  Turning the air conditioner off for the year.  Opening the windows.  The sound of crickets at night (they’ve been here all along, but now I can enjoy the sound with the windows open).  The cool air as we sleep.  The sun setting earlier each night.  All signs that another summer is– for real this time– coming to an end.

As I was running this evening, I could feel just the slightest change in the air around me.  And it occurred to me:  “I love running in the fall.”  Actually, I love the fall.  Period.  October has long been a favorite month.  And fall brings cross-country, race season, pumpkins, Halloween, Harper Lee’s birthday, corn mazes, open windows and fresh air, light sweaters and fallen leaves.  All the things I love.  Really, really love.

I’ve been feeling an impending sense of doom for about a month– maybe even longer because I’ve been dreading winter.  Last winter was such a dark time for me, and I guess I’ve been afraid of all that descending upon me again.  Never mind that I’m in an entirely different place now.  I’ve been, in some ways, dreading winter so much that I’ve actually felt a little panicked– a sort of “hurry up and enjoy life now because it’s all going to go to hell pretty soon.”  Yeah, I know– dark.  And maybe a little twisted.  But there it is.

The predictions for this coming winter are that it’s going to be a cold, snowy one– maybe even colder and snowier than last year–, and while those forecasts have struck fear in my heart a few times, I think I’m warming up to the idea that it doesn’t have to.  Each season of the year– each season of our lives– is different, isn’t it?  Just because winter has been hard for me in the past doesn’t mean it has to continue in that direction.  In fact, when I think back, I can remember quite a few things about winter that I have enjoyed.  A lot.

Christmas, of course, and long trail runs with a friend in the snow.  Curling up in front of the fireplace.  Hot apple cider and hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Homemade vegetable soup and freshly baked bread.  Quilts– lots and lots of quilts.  Good books.  Long Sunday afternoon naps.  Snowmen.  Sledding.  My favorite hat and gloves.  Boots!

So my goals for the next few weeks are to:

Enjoy the fall– every crisp, delicious day.

And look forward to winter– to build the anticipation.  This winter, I’m going to change my attitude and HAVE FUN.

If you dread winter like I have been, why not join me in writing down all the things you’re looking forward to about this winter?   I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love a good snow day?

I’m not even going to sweat the dreaded make-up days in June.  Just let it go, man.  And happy Fall!

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