Poems & Essays

09 Nov

Mother Nature and the State of Florida, May I Have a Word?

General/Column No Response

Seasons are important. I learned this while we lived in Colorado for a short time earlier this year. There’s something special about a portion of time that visually fades away and morphs into another before your eyes. It urges you to reflect and to shake off feelings and habits you need to be rid of. They can be packed away in the rubbermaid bins with the beach towels, and for a minute you feel you are capable of doing and thinking some things differently if you need to. As you start to assess and rid yourself of the unneeded figurative elements, you begin to layer on cozy and soft material things…maybe because you already know you are entering into a time of renewal and rawness and you need the coverage to protect yourself as you grow your new skin and brace for change. A scarf can wrap around a few more times if you need the strength or support…a warm cable-knit hug. Boots are comforting because they make you brave…you won’t slip or slide in your new season, even though you don’t know where it will take you just yet. You are equipped for new terrain. You do away with being exposed to everyone, everything, and every element…you are actually physically forced by nature to cover up, bind up, stay home and turn inward. You drink the spiced coffee, read the book, bake the thing and add some cream. You light the fire, add another layer of plaid, burrow, retreat, write, read, eat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Unless you live with me.

If you are in my house and I am your mom, then you are being told a million times “It’s fall! It’s autumn! It’s a new season! You hear me? NEW!! See look, here at Walmart…the plastic leaves and stalks of brown corn and wheat…there are leaves and plants that actually look like that right now somewhere on this great earth and it’s happening now!!” You are forced to watercolor coffee filters orange, red, and yellow and you are felting acorns and cutting salt dough into pumpkins and maple leaf shapes. Things start to smell wonderful inside your house, with lots of maple syrup flowing over butter on top of pumpkin pancakes and butternut squash muffins fresh from the oven. Your mom is telling you all about harvest season and trying to read to you aloud ten times more than even normal about squirrels and pie and plants you’ve never heard of and making you drink hot tea even though you just got in from getting the mail for her and there are sweat droplets beading on your back. Your parents also buy you new flip-flops, a new float for the pool, and a new swim-suit because those things happen to be on sale while all this is going on, even though in the stack of Jan Brett books you are being forced to look at all you see are sweaters, mittens, and hats. It’s all more than a bit confusing.

And it’s exhausting for me. Because as your mom, I am now not only mother, cook, caretaker, teacher, and all that that entails, I am now Season Simulator and must make sure that you get at least some bit of what a change in season can do for our life and for our hearts. I’ll be danged if geography is going to keep us from reflection and renewal, but boy it would be nice if your other Mother would throw us a freaking bone every now and again.

In a life that is seeking honesty, truth, and beauty, I find it repugnant that I am led to feel like a poser when the seasons are supposed to be changing and in our environment they are not. A trip to the fabric store and I am in tears on the way back to the van because every print on every sign, every quippy little saying is just a dream that I will not see with my own eyes and have to imposter for my kids so that they can at least see it in their imagination.

Welcome to my mind. While it’s sometimes hard to admit, I think too much, feel too much, and I want it all, all the time, but especially at the time that it SHOULD be happening. I’m trying to create a sense of renewal and seasonal change in my home and for my family to experience but it feels false and transparent as it is accompanied by sizzling stale air and the grass and leaves that are still green and buzzing with new growth. Geography is making a liar out of me and I hate it for that today.

So enough. I surrender. Grab your sandals and let’s hit the beach. The waves come and go, pull up and back, bringing change in their own way. There is some renewal to feel there in their sound and rhythm. We can layer on sunscreen and hats and glasses and rashguard shirts and pretend that the breeze that blows is 30 degrees cooler and that it is blowing something new in for us other than thunderheads. Some people would be jealous that we can do that right now…breathe in lungs of sea air for a few hours. However, I think in their heart they would understand that they would actually feel a little bit cheated, a little bit behind and inauthentic, and grow a little less each year without a smoke-filled chilly breeze whispering crackly secrets into their subconcious that can only be heard with earmuffs on.

Kimberly Braunschneider is a homeschooling mom of five children ages 5-14 who loves to cook, read, write, craft, and enjoy the sunshine in as much spare time as she can muster up.

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