Fall is my favorite season. Warm during the afternoon, cold enough at night for thick blankets and snuggling, the sharp smell of frost and the organic hint of leafmold (even if it does make me sneeze), the turning and turning of the compost pile, covering up the garden beds to rest for a season…all those little signs that we’re moving from the languor and overabundance of late summer to the relief of cold, and rain, and eventually frost and snow.
I’m especially glad to see the weather starting to change this year, because as the rains move in, the wildfire season will finally come to a close. We’ve been surrounded by fires all summer, and while I celebrate the role they play in rejuvenating the wilderness and keeping the forests healthy, being pinned down first by the Rowena fire and now by the one in the Mt. Hood National Forest has made me a little uneasy. Thankfully we were never really in harm’s way, but with the crisis in funding and the drought, wildfires have been even less predictable and manageable than usual, and there’s nothing like seeing an edge of a big fire up close to give you that visceral sense of vulnerability.
On a more human scale, I’m enjoying moving back to inside work and warming activities. It’s knitting season, and wooly garment season, and snuggly toy season! We recently boiled down the salt from water we collected at Newport in July, and melted down our stash of broken crayons to make new ones, and poured a few new candles. Soon it will be time to make soap and beeswax food wrappers, to bake with figs and mill applesauce and make quince paste, and to Eat All The Butternut Squash.
But this weekend we’re doing the semi-annual dance of the hand-me-downs, which thrills my little type-A heart to the core because there is organizing to do. Unfortunately, I think I’m the only member of my family who looks forward to this ritual– Númenor gets weepy and bored after half-a-dozen wardrobe changes, and Ithilien is highly skilled in the art of running around at top speed to express the sheer joy of nudity. But it is still time for the dance. If you have small children, you may recognize the steps.
Dance of the Hand-Me-Downs
- Gather the child’s current clothing and make a huge pile in the middle of the floor.
- Strip the child down and have them try on a few things.
- Try not to freak out when the child loses all grasp of How to Put on a Shirt and tries to put their arms through the sleeves elbows-first or to take the shirt off by pulling the neck hole down under their arms.
- Attract the child’s attention back to the task at hand.
- Bribe the child to try on more clothes.
- Sigh in exasperation.
- Practice numeracy skills (“Okay, there are only three more shirts. Can you count them as we try them on?”).
- Run after and catch naked, squealing children who want to PLAY and have them try on just one more pair of pants.
- Declare that your child’s favorite garment is too small, because you are the Cruelest Parent in all of Meanville, and not at all because putting it on involves a moment where the child in question can’t breathe.
- Unfeelingly give the child’s outgrown clothing to their younger sibling, who seems more taken with that glow-in-the-dark bunny shirt than seems tactful given the circumstances.
- Break for snacks.
- Break for trips to the toilet.
- Try not to break anything else.
- Get out the bin of clothes for the oldest child to grow into, and repeat steps 2 through 8.
- Remember after you’ve told your children that we’re done trying on clothes that you haven’t checked coats, shoes, socks, gloves, sweaters, and hats.
- Apologize to children and say that they have to try on just a few more things.
- Watch children spontaneously try on all of their outerwear with the greatest of delight and voluntarily bring you the outgrown pieces without complaint.
- Wrestle piles of clothing going into storage out of sight before they get too played with and disorganized. Cry about at least one of those things being outgrown, because you remember how tiny your oldest child was when they first wore it, and the progression of time is so disrespectful of your feelings.
- Realize that you haven’t done laundry yet this week, and therefore the dirty laundry is full of outgrown but untested clothing.
Yes, it is a glorious season. It’s my favorite.