And this year...my oh my, how I have fallen in love with autumn more than ever. The leaves. The air. The cooler night time temperatures. Even though it has been unseasonably warm around here this October, it just feels different. And this feeling of autumn was the perfect backdrop for Saturday's creek-side party with family and friends.
My sis-in-law Sarah coordinated the efforts in getting both her family and my brother's family together at my parents' house for one last hurrah before the Pacific Northwest rains come for good. Her timing couldn't have been more perfect, for yesterday the fogs came rolling in, and last night after the party it seems that the rains have finally arrived. But while we sat on blankets and bales of straw drinking hot cider and eating hot dogs, the weather was cool and crisp.
There are some who might wish to orchestrate every minute of a party, but I find the best ones don't need all the bells and whistles. Our time together was filled with walks through the woods--an early evening one for the scenery, a later evening one looking for the spooky monsters to jump out from behind trees--and lots of conversation. My parents had taken the bbq down to the creek for those who opted against roasting their hotdog over the fire, and my little bit of excitement was burning all the hair off my hand when I stood too close to the grill as I pressed the 'ignite' button (note to self: stand back if the propane has been on for awhile). We watched the kids throw rocks in the creek and light their marshmallows on fire. We talked about new jobs and homes. We sang Happy Birthday; we scolded the dogs; we threw straw in the fire pit and watched it turn to ash and float through the air. I got to hear Sydney say, "Clover! Sit here!" about a hundred times, and tried in vain to capture the perfect picture of the two little cousins holding hands on bales of straw. Finally, at the end, we hiked up the hill in the dark to our cars and drove our sleeping children home.
Some days it becomes difficult for me to drive away from the Family Farm. I leave behind my parents, my grandma, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin's family. And in a few weeks when I leave the farm I will leave behind Tyler and Sarah, along with my nieces Clover and Toby, who are moving into the old farmhouse. That in mind, I am so thankful that Sydney gets to go up to the farm once a week and ride on the tractor and jump on the trampoline and eat apples from the orchard. But most of all I am thankful that she gets to spend time with her family.
I don't believe it was pure luck that the rains held off just long enough for us to enjoy our last bonfire at the creek. It was no miracle, but it was certainly a blessing to be given one last fire-warmed memory: all of us together, surrounded by children and dogs and friends and family. And, of course, lots and lots of s'mores.