Adjusting to fall


“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”
― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I caught a glimpse of her from across the way. She stopped to check her phone, not knowing where we were.

It was orientation day at the campus, and she had been sequestered from us for a few hours. At this point in the day, she had chosen her classes for the year, wandered around her new home-away-from-home with a group of fellow incoming freshman, had enjoyed lunch at one of the campus eateries and was probably ready for a nap.

It was exhausting and exhilarating and a little emotional.

Earlier that morning, we took photos of our baby girl on campus. Always hamming it up for the camera, we had fun in front of the water fountain and by some of the student art that was on display. She was a little nervous, but excited to be on this new adventure. She reminded us of the parents’ schedule for the day, and then we parted for our respective lectures.

Being the rebels we are, her dad and I sat through one parental seminar before we skipped out of class. She was our fourth child heading into secondary education, plus we had sent her oldest brother off to basic training about seven years ago. I guess we felt arrogantly justified in our behavior, a “been there, done that” attitude. Honestly, we preferred exploring the campus on our own, plus we made a visit to the financial aid and housing offices to make sure all was in order.

The day couldn’t have been prettier. On what would have typically been a hot and humid August day, we were refreshed with clear, blue skies, a gentle breeze and no humidity after the raging storms of the night before. The sun was just right – bright enough to spread warmth, but offset enough to remind us of the changing seasons; a reminder that soon we’d be adjusting to fall.

Autumn always brings newness to life, which is ironic because it is really a gateway to the frigid cold of winter. I always found the crisp fall air, a new school year and the freshness of the season to be more along the lines of new growth than in the spring months. Reflecting, I realized that most of the job opportunities I had seemed to come my way in the fall. Even our wedding took place at the very end of summer, during the calm transitional phase before the autumn season began.

Our plan to end the orientation day was to meet our daughter at the student store, grab some logo gear, a coffee and be on our way. We were waiting for her to make contact with us, so we could arrange a meeting point after the scheduled events of the day had concluded.

“I chose all my classes, so I am done,” read her text.

“Okay. Meet us at the student store,” I responded.

“I don’t know where it is. I mean, I do, but I don’t know where I am at. LOL,” she replied.

“Hahaha – It’s across from the lecture hall we started off at. Dad and I are heading there now,” I typed.

“I’ll start walking. I think I know where it is,” she said.

I caught a glimpse of her from across the way. She stopped to check her phone, not knowing where we were.

The gentle breeze played with her long, curly hair. I knew she was my child the minute I saw her standing on the sidewalk, though she didn’t look like my baby girl. Before me now was a young woman; tall, confident, beautiful, and gently turning her face toward the breeze.

I saw her taking it all in – the beauty of the grounds; getting her bearings in what would be her new surroundings, breathing in the almost-fall air, picturing herself being somewhere new.

For a moment I stood back and observed, just as I did when I dropped her off at preschool, which now seemed like yesterday. Back then, she didn’t have a clue I was there. How I enjoyed watching her from afar; seeing her interact with the others on the playground, back when the days didn’t seem to go by as quickly as they do now. Seeing her and appreciating her for who she was apart from me.

I found myself, too, taking it all in, tipping my head in the breeze, gathering my bearings in what would become my own new surroundings, breathing in the almost-fall air; picturing myself somewhere new in my life. She didn’t have a clue I was there. How I still enjoyed watching her from afar. I saw her as she really is – appreciating her for who she is apart from me.

Yes, I mourned what had been and how fast the years went by, and how every year it seems that spring has just sprung, yet we find ourselves back in the business of fall. And then I reminded myself that every autumn brings the hope of new beginnings; a midlife moment where I will enjoy adjusting to fall, both with a change in weather and a change in life.

© Lynne Cobb – 2015

Have you, too, noticed that midlife and fall share the same exciting changes? Tell your story in the comment section! If you enjoyed this essay, feel free to share it using one of the social media buttons provided below.

10 Replies to “Adjusting to fall”

  1. Lynne,
    I’ve never had children, so I’ve never had these feelings. You’ve painted a poignant and touching picture that’s given me insight into the parent/child separation. You’re both learning to stand on your own and drink in your independence from one another. Thank you, Brenda
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  2. I love autumn. It is by far my most favorite time of year. I love the smells, the colors, and the gathering that takes place….both with friends and from the earth. To me tho it feels like the beginning of winter….sighs….not a big winter fan, although it does have its own beauty. The young ones grow so fast….I feel like I am perpetually in that new beginnings season with them. Just when I am getting used to what they are up to now…they go and change it on me! No I have 2 grand children, a grown son who I distinctly remember learning to ride a bike….yesterday, and my youngest well on his way to becoming an adult. Sighs…..I feel like this is the spring of my elder years….wow, what a scary thought! Ha

  3. What a beautiful reminder of what fall can really be. I enjoyed reading your insight and now have a better outlook on the fall. Your description of separation feelings when your children “leave the nest” is spot on. Wishing you a terrific fall and a joyous 2016!

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