Elm flowers

The tiny, shriveled blooms collecting in my swimming pool tell me change is on the way.

Although the sun still sends a trickle of sweat down my cheek, twilight approaches sooner every day. I still wear shorts. The air conditioner still rumbles. But there is a promise of cooler days to come.

If I were back in the state I was born, leaves would turn yellow, red, and brown before swirling to the ground. The wind would have a cool bite. But here in California, the elms in the front yard shed their leaves, but the citrus trees hold theirs green. Nights will be slighter cooler, though not enough to get a jacket out of the closet.  

But no one can escape change, not even Californians.  

Hope and dread war in my heart. How reassuring would it be if everything stayed the same. As I look around, change never stops. Majestic mountains are brought down, rock by rock. Rivers carry garbage to the ocean. Forests are devastated by raging fires, and farmlands drown in floods. Natural wonders are shadows of their original untouched beauty.

As the years pass, I also cannot escape the ticking clock of time. New wrinkles, grey hair, dental work, aching joints. They remind me that my body has an expiration date. And I can’t renew my extended warranty.

But as the Californian rock band, Switchfoot, wrote, “this skin and bones is a rental.” When my travels on Earth are over, I will move to a more beautiful place. A place not touched by viruses or pain. A place where beauty cannot be corrupted.

So I mourn not for what is lost. Instead, I smile to see piles of elm flowers crumbled in the street. They are my promise that change is coming, and someday I will be home.

The tiny, shriveled blooms collecting in my swimming pool tell me change is on the way.

Although the sun still sends a trickle of sweat down my cheek, twilight approaches sooner every day. I still wear shorts. The air conditioner still rumbles. But there is a promise of cooler days to come.

If I were back in the state I was born, leaves would turn yellow, red, and brown before swirling to the ground. The wind would have a cool bite. But here in California, the elms in the front yard shed their leaves, but the citrus trees hold theirs green. Nights will be slighter cooler, though not enough to get a jacket out of the closet.  

But no one can escape change, not even Californians.  

Hope and dread war in my heart. How reassuring would it be if everything stayed the same. As I look around, change never stops. Majestic mountains are brought down, rock by rock. Rivers carry garbage to the ocean. Forests are devastated by raging fires, and farmlands drown in floods. Natural wonders are shadows of their original untouched beauty.

As the years pass, I also cannot escape the ticking clock of time. New wrinkles, grey hair, dental work, aching joints. They remind me that my body has an expiration date. And I can’t renew my extended warranty.

But as the Californian rock band, Switchfoot, wrote, “this skin and bones is a rental.” When my travels on Earth are over, I will move to a more beautiful place. A place not touched by viruses or pain. A place where beauty cannot be corrupted.

So I mourn not for what is lost. Instead, I smile to see piles of elm flowers crumbled in the street. They are my promise that change is coming, and someday I will be home.

Changes Fall

Autumn

 

Today when the piano alarm on my phone crescendoed until I obediently rolled out of bed, something felt different. Through my slitted eyes, dawn’s light through our open windows remained black. Birds chirping outside startled me, and I realized my husband had turned off our room air conditioner sometime during the night. A strange impulse coursed through my body, traveling through me like a crowd doing the wave at a baseball stadium. My throat scratched when I asked my husband if he wanted a banana packed in his lunch, so I took a drink from the water bottle on my night stand. The water was still cold!

Then I realized the source of strangeness—the air inside my room was cool. For the first time in three months, I wanted to put on a sweater. Usually I would wake up soaked with sweat, barely rested due to constant demand for cold water during the night. My body had no idea how to adjust to more moderate temperatures. In dim light, I searched through my closet, digging deep before feeling the zipper of my hoodie. Gratefully, I pulled it on and zipped it up to my neck. My shaking ceased.

The aroma of coffee dripping into the pot in the kitchen combined with crisp coolness and whispered promises. The summer sluggishness I had strained beneath disappeared, and my steps became light. Ambition kindled in the cool morning. Suddenly hope swelled in my chest, and I began to believe again that my life would change. That my fourth graders this year would love to write. That my book might be picked up by an agent. That I would find the perfect writing critique group. That I would lose those last five pounds.

Officially fall begins on September 22nd, but in my bedroom, on this day, the changes of fall began.

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