The picture here at home this afternoon:
It's raining outside again. We're not as giddy about the rain as we were when we first arrived in Nebraska, but after a lifetime in arid Colorado and 40 weeks in desert Las Vegas, it's possible we'll always appreciate it more than most. It smells so good, for one thing -- and you can practically hear the earth slurping it up. We're all just sitting around now, smelling and listening.... because, honestly, after a couple weeks of unbridled romping and climbing and exploring outdoors (and unpacking and cleaning and organizing indoors), we're happy to have a rainy day excuse to vege out a little bit.
So, for posterity -- this is us, vegging:
I'm tucked into my favorite recliner with my computer, of course, and all the children are somewhere within my line of vision, except Anna, and I'm not sure where she is -- probably snuggled upstairs somewhere, writing on her book. Gabriel passes by every once in a while; he's looking for a notebook to catalogue the fish he plans to catch as soon as he gets a new fishing pole. Cathy is making quiet sounds in the kitchen, getting ready to bake another apple pie. Theresa is here with me in the living room, playing a medley on the piano -- themes from The Village, Pride and Prejudice, and the Lord of the Rings to start out. The floor behind her (and in front of me) is an ocean for William and his battleships filled with little men. He likes to play to the soundtracks, but pauses now, as the melody shifts to the theme from To Kill a Mockingbird.
It seems everyone stops what they're doing when Theresa plays this tune. I think the memory of it passed down through my DNA to my children; they seem to know, like I do, that this music plays our ancestry and the culture of my southern childhood. I guess maybe I've told them so, more or less with words. But even without the personal history, the melody suits the autumn season; the house even seems to recognize it and pauses to listen.
The notes follow the leaves trickling down with the rain outside the window right now. It all reminds me of southern things: the music, the smell of apple pie, the rain, the trees... Even though we're only one state away from our old Rocky Mountain home, half the time I can imagine I'm at my grandparents' house in North Carolina. So much is more reminiscent of the south than of the west here. Funny, for instance, how the progress of the season so far seems different in Nebraska than what we knew in Colorado. Autumn happened all of a sudden back there: one day it was summer, the next day it was fall, and then BAM! Winter. But here is more like what I remember from my childhood in the southeast. It's all a little more slow and genteel, the change of the season. For instance, the trees towering around our house are still mostly cloaked in green this 23rd of September, only changing bit by little bit, a patch here, a patch there. It's an unhurried process, this Nebraskan burnishing of golds and reds; it daily changes the view out of every window of the house, but only minutely so far. It's like "I Spy," looking for new fall leaves every day, but even as we enjoy the game, we're a little sorry knowing we'll watch the fall landscape keep on changing until it fades into browns and greys and the trees are stark and bare. ==sigh== And then winter. More like a whimper and a sigh than BAM!
At least when the leaves are all gone, we'll be better able to track the movement of the squirrel families on the property. I loved doing that when I was a little girl. But my children have never lived anywhere that there were squirrels! Strange, I know, but true. The little boys are atwitter with excitement about the squirrels, though, let me tell you. I was studying Catechism with William on the front porch the other day, when I noticed him lose attention; his eyes focused over my shoulder, instead of on his book. And then suddenly, "Squirrel!" he shouted, pointing toward the branches. You know, just like that dog in "UP"... ? Yes, indeed. We don't study on the porch any more.
But, back to the cozy living room. Theresa is finishing up the last notes of the theme of To Kill a Mockingbird now. I wish you could have heard it. (Maybe I'll film it sometime soon so you can.) This music was just right for today, though, with its themes of nostalgia and change -- the bittersweet loss of innocence and old ways, mixed with the hopeful expectation of good things to come. Just right for us at this juncture of our lives. We've come through a lot in the last few years, through so many disappointments, so many moves and changes... It's been difficult in a lot of ways. We miss our far-away family and friends and we miss the old way of living in the familiar old places, but it's all good; we're glad to be here now. We have a feeling that God hand-picked this place for us, and that this is exactly where we're supposed to be. Underneath the rain- soaked old trees, listening to beautiful music, waiting for pie to come out of the oven. I hope I can somehow find a way to deserve all my blessings.