I felt restless today. Perhaps because today I made mandatory for myself a solid rest before the coming week’s mad frenzy of packing for storage and staging a house to put on the market. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived so long in a state of frenzy that today’s required rest unsettled me. After an hour or so of knitting with Netflix on the sofa, I stood and stretched, and went outside.
I sat on the front porch, on the first step of weathered wooden stairs, noting they’ll need to be sanded and stained before we pass them (and the home they’re attached to) on to the next owners.
I looked out at the lawn, recently manicured for increased curb appeal, freshly scrubbed and raked, tidied and neatened for next Saturday’s meeting with our realtor and her professional real-estate photographer.
I breathed deeply and noticed for the first time that beloved chill in the air, clinging to my skin and lingering in my lungs. I listened to the stillness around me, the weighted anticipation of a cool night with cooler days to come.
I felt my unrest stirring and making itself more fully known, revealing its true identity, and I understood.
My last first day of October.
Oh there will be more Octobers. But they won’t be like this one. They’ll be humid and warm, and no golden leaves will fall from drowsing deciduous trees. The sky will lack that trademark shade of brilliant blue. No promise of impending cold winds will brush my cheek on woodsmoke tinged breezes.
I realized I hadn’t had time in days (weeks?) to even touch my camera, so I went inside again to fetch it. I needed its soothing click, its firm and steady and predictable presence in my hands. I suddenly needed it very badly. I needed it to help me savor this moment. I needed it to help me remember it. I needed it help me wrestle with this feeling, this looming Last First.
Walking around my yard, I noticed things — things I’d taken for granted over the past few years living here.
Like the deepening green leaves of a Tulip Poplar I’d been watching over the seasons, a reminder of my Tennessee roots, the state tree of my home. I realized I would never again watch it from my kitchen window, never again see its brilliant orange and white blossoms waving at me on the Spring breeze.
I saw the bark of our Birch tree and realized I’d never spend another year watching it peeling, from loamy dark to brittle silver, curling over itself, shedding time.
I realized I wouldn’t get to watch the unfurling of our Dogwood tree in April, its blooming and blossoming into creamy white brilliance.
I realized the very last of our hydrangea blossoms were waning, clinging to an expired summer amid dried, crinkled blooms — on a hydrangea that, until last summer, I didn’t even know existed on the North side of our front porch.
It suddenly wasn’t just my last first day of October.
It was my Last First anything here, in this place.
I understand that in losing my beloved Appalachian October I will gain something every bit as beautiful; there is a vibrant element of possibility and hope and promise in knowing that in four weeks time, when we make our way deeper South to our new Florida home, I will cross over into something fresh and new and exciting.
But just because you want something very much and have worked diligently for it … that doesn’t mean the obtaining it will be easy for the heart to handle. Especially when falling leaves and brilliant October skies are at stake.
My last first of October. My last first hint at true Autumn. My last first chilly day.
My Last First.