It happens every year.
In one, or more than one, cars packed to the gills (or grills?), the family slowly rolls down the driveway in Maine.
Crushed gravel giving way with crunching protest.
And my brain and heart protesting a little bit too.
It’s not really a complaining thing, but more a realization that – once again – something inevitable, another of life’s small doorways to step through, has arrived.
Summer into fall.
The good news? Fall is my favorite season.
Spring, be damned with all your mud, Fall in all its crisp gorgeousness is for me!
If I’m gonna clean… clear out… refresh?
It’s gonna happen in Fall.
So many things – from picture taking to the smell of new school supplies, to soccer (the sport of a certain Self-Proclaimed Perfect Boy) are awesome in Fall.
Crisp air, burning leaves, fires in the hearths…
Ah.. I can feel it coming.
Every single year since 2005, when we bought the Maine House/The Inn, I have heard the same song in my head when the family leaves.
In the days before they go, some combination of the boys and Mac bring up kayaks and take in the Thinkin’ Chairs (the four – two white, two blue – Adirondack chairs that sit at the edge of the East Coast, facing the water so we can watch the boats slide by all summer long).
And then, on the last day, cars are packed fuller than they were for the way up. A few more things – food items maybe, or souvenirs bought over the course of the lazy season – inevitably join the backpacks and duffel bags that made their way up the house back in June.
And then the driveway crunching and waving and SeeYouSoons happen.
And I stay for a day or so, to do last clean ups and outs, and last checks.
And I’m telling you, as soon as I turn from that last wave to the family – which I make sure comes from me, just the way my Nana did years ago when we left her house (you could never get the last wave in with Nan, she always returned your waves until you couldn’t see her out the back window of the car) – as soon as I do that last wave?
“Now the seats… are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down…”
It plays in my head as I strip beds, and wipe down counters.
As I sweep ShepHerd hair from beneath the bakers’ rack, and pull that one shoe we’ve been looking for all summer from beneath the love seat in the living room.
I’m smiling, as Jackson sings about that last guitar being packed away (but that he still wants to stay), while I scrub the attic sinks.
I pack up any food that won’t spoil on the way home, and toss any leftovers that won’t make the trip (making sure to bungee-chord the barrels in the barn in case Spike or any raccoons figure out how to break in, before they can be put out.
Don’t laugh, it’s totally happened.
And, before I know it, the car is chock full and I can barely fit in myself. This year a lavender plant, that I’d grown strangely close to, sat right beside me. It was crammed in with my bags and camera, in a just-so position so it wouldn’t fall over, and wouldn’t get too much wind.
Once again, I had it all set to go.
And I climbed into the little car – JoHn left it for me, so I could have a great ride home.
I decided to surprise him this year, and follow him home about six hours after he, Granny, and Gabe left.
A great ride in a convertible, on a warm night under a starry sky sounded pretty good to me.
I unhitched the top and push it back a bit.
Hit the button on the console, and the whole thing slipped back behind me.
Stay was playing in my head then.
“Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer…”
And right then, I had that ‘I don’t wanna leave!” feeling that I remember as a child.
I thought, sure, I could tantrum it up.
Throw a fit.
Jump out of the car and run back inside, dare someone to come get me.
I could make my way down the driveway.
Click the old car’s radio past 92 Moose and over to the classic hits on 107.5 Frank FM as I approach the road.
Smile as a great driving song wafts through the speakers…
And that’s exactly what I did.
Then I eased off the clutch, stepped on the gas…
And drove toward Fall.
Thanks for readin’.
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