I step out onto the porch, herding the kids outside to wait for their carpool. I am no longer blasted by the heat; instead, it is cool- not quite crisp, not yet, but cool enough to let me know that summer has finally moved on. I notice one of our Halloween pumpkins has melted into the step, caving in on itself. The jagged mouth has melted open, showing us the ruin within: blue and green fuzz covers the once-vibrant orange walls, and tiny flies zoom in and out. It’s di-gusting, as my daughter says. Nature is so cool, as my son says.
I see them off, after too-many hugs good-bye. I hear my daughter yell from the open window, “I wuv you to infinity and beyond!”. I wave and go back inside to the house, startling in its sudden quiet. I feel the pull to the page, but first I rinse the breakfast dishes, and clean up the debris from the tornados that just left- shoes and dolls and nightgowns and t-shirts and a “map” and rocks and acorns and Legos. I walk past the tiny bathroom crouched under the stairs and notice the tulips spilling out of the vase. Yesterday the tulips were tequila sunset orange and standing tall. This morning the stalks have draped themselves over the sides of the vase like a waterfall, and the orange flowers have collapsed into a muted puddle of what they once were. It is beautiful, and creepy. Nature is so cool. I take a picture and realize I have forgotten to turn the page of the calendar. I turn the page, October rolls back and November is revealed.
I walk back towards the computer, but then my husband emerges from the bathroom asking me if his tie is too much color. No, I love it, I say. Did you see that my aunt won a Country Music Award last night?
No, he says, that’s awesome. I’ll watch it tonight.
Oh, I say, don’t forget I have that kindergarten mom thing tonight.
Ok, he says, but what if I have to get drinks with the client?
As long as you are home by seven, I say.
I watch him put on his tie, thinking how hot he looks. I want to wrap my arms around him and feel his stubble on my cheek. He is crisp and clean, off to be a man at work. I am disheveled and distracted, perched in my chair, still in my slippers. I have work to do too, but invisible work, at home and behind the scenes.
We then discuss my daughter’s gymnastics class, our son’s plan to invite friends over for an obstacle course/police training day, dinner tonight, and his latest case. This is our moment of catching up.
I go to get more coffee, glad for a few more minutes to write. Then I see the eggs on the counter, the cut-up mushrooms, the onions, the bacon, and the spinach. I forgot I was planning on cooking breakfast. I sigh, and look at the clock, and begin cracking the eggs.
Finally I am here. I am out of time. But first, a few words. November. Our seasons are out of sync here. The heat of summer lingers and lingers into October. It does not get chilly until January. The November in my head and the November outside do not match up. I think about the flowers- so beautiful even in their death. There is no sadness; that is the way of nature. The flowers grow and bloom into something impossibly beautiful, and then they are no more. Maybe there is no sadness because they have done their job, fulfilled their purpose, left no potential on the table.
I am listening to The National on Pandora. I am filled with yearning. To write like that, someday. To reach that potential, maybe. To have my words fulfill their purpose, to match what I feel on the inside to what I say on the paper. This morning feels like a Mary Oliver poem come to life: beauty, death, nature, amazement, life small and large. All in one vase of tulips. All in one rotting pumpkin. All in one morning.