Weeding the garden on a sunny, not-quite-cool afternoon, the gusting wind hints at what’s to come in the months ahead while it seems to be blowing away the remains of the months gone by. The green leaves lost their color imperceptibly at first. Falling pine needles billowed in a silent hush; accumulated in a softly layered thatch like a pillow for summer to lay its head down and sleep. I stand and notice that I haven’t needed to remove my corduroy overshirt and strip down to my tank top in spite of working in the sun for the last three hours. My collective impression is one of mild surprise, and I wonder when it turned to fall.
October in New England always evokes a sense of change, maybe more so than any other month, leading me to muse on change. Change can be abrupt, sudden, obvious – the kind of changes that are typically distinctly memorable. But for the entirety of a life, change happens on a continuum – constant, steady, subtle, quiet, almost imperceptible – until you notice that what once was no longer is.
When I was six or seven years old, my father taught me how to ride a two-wheeler. I couldn’t do it. He’d hold the back of the seat and run with me, encouraging me and coaching me along the way. “You can do it.” I wobbled and fell. He stuck with me. “You’re getting better – that’s it.” I looked for him there, anxiously turning my head to be sure he was holding the seat because I knew that’s what was keeping the bike upright and steady; it wasn’t me. “Keep looking in front of you,” he said. “I’m here.” We practiced for weeks that summer, after he’d take the train home from the city. I couldn’t do it, but I got better. One summer evening we were at it again. He held the back of the seat, I pushed the pedals around and around, he ran alongside, encouraging me the whole time. After a few moments, after a time, after riding for a while … I heard my Dad shouting from the other end of Fern Street, “Put on your brakes!” I was confused. Why did he sound so far away? I jammed the pedals hard in reverse. The bike swerved where Lenox intersected with Fern, and the bike and I laid down in the sandy street dirt. That day something changed. I knew how to ride a bike.
When does change happen? At what point does summer become fall (equinoxes notwithstanding)? When is the face in the mirror older? Or just old? When is the coffee cold? When do you know you love someone – someone who was once a complete stranger? When are you asleep, not awake?
Change is life. As long as you’re breathing, you’re doing it, in it, or part of it. You may effect it or be affected by it. It can be obvious or go unnoticed. It can be hard, or it can be as easy as pie.
May you notice and welcome all the changes ahead – because they are coming – as lessons and as opportunities.
10/23/23 © www.megreilly360.com