By Anne Kaiser
Autumn seems to arrive with particular fanfare this year. Though I relish humid, sun-filled August days, I am grateful for cooler breezes that herald the advent of apple picking season and night breezes scented with wood smoke.
In Milwaukee, September seems to mark the subtle tipping point on which summer pirouettes gracefully into fall. I have always felt tethered to the arc of the seasons and their impact on landscapes both external and internal. This year, the cycle of seasons feels particularly profound, for I watch the changing earth through the new lens of motherhood.
In anticipation of cooler days, favorite outdoor excursions, and contemplative, cozy evenings indoors, I recently sorted through my new baby’s drawers of clothing. I stood beside his dresser in the early morning hours, gazing at neatly folded shirts, pants and one-piece outfits I had arranged by size before his birth.
I folded a jaunty orange shirt sporting a smiling monkey, stacked an assortment of palm-sized cotton caps and discovered sweatpants barely longer than my forearm. Much of Nathaniel’s clothing, I realized, was short-sleeved — perfect for the summery July and August days following his birth.
As I held one sleeper, I was struck by a more profound realization: Nathaniel had already almost outgrown this garment, as well as a whole host of companion pieces in his top drawer. Had that much time really passed since his birth? Could a two-pound weight gain really mark the end of an era — one that had only just begun?
An accompanying revelation presented itself with startling clarity and emotional impact: my son would never be this small again. While markers of growth and change in adulthood sometimes pass unnoticed, seamlessly (even imperceptibly) connecting the seasons, childhood is defined by rapid, perceptible transformation. While I might return to a favorite garment again and again, my son’s small clothes provide a tangible marker of his rapidly-evolving physical self. He reminds me of the grand, constant cycle of daily metamorphosis and change that affects us all.
In honor of my son, my family and this season of change, I vowed that day to continue to step back from the whirlwind of commitments and activities so typical of modern life. I look forward to this time of growth, knowing I’ll savor the subtle and profound transformations that mark the seasons of life.