Autumn is my favorite season. The last few autumns have been stressful, strained, or just completely out of sync. I’ve wanted to embrace the fullness of the season, but I’ve been distracted. Not this year. This year, it is autumn and I am inhaling it for all its worth.
After a bit of a detour, we have settled into a comfortable learning cadence. I’m happy with our reading and writing choices. I’m even happy with math (well, as happy as I am able to be). Our days have a predictable, if busy, rhythm. Mornings are well-protected from the din and demands of the outside world. Late afternoons are a social whirl. But the days are growing shorter and the darkness comes earlier and my home glows in the sweet anticipation of long stretches of time devoted to hearth and home. Even the dizzying whirl will slow to a gentle waltz.
I’m finding joy in simple things and inhaling the rich aromas of the season. There is no smell more intoxicating to me than the smell of autumn in the air. “Sweet Shendandoah”—the scent of leaves and wood fires and perhaps a bit of mold on a serpentine wall. I love that smell. With the leaves and the fires, layer the spicy sweetness of pumpkin bread and the honeyed headiness of beeswax and, soon, all the world is aglow in the loveliness of autumn.
We spent some late October afternoons recently bringing the season into our home. Inspired by Ginny’s lovely leaves, we gathered some of our own.
All of my children and I found quiet satisfaction in slowly lowering bright leaves into liquid beeswax and waiting for it to stop dripping before carefully placing it on wax paper.
We threaded it on a garland and hung it from the dining room light.
I smell the sweetness and delight in the color as I sit at the dining room table, tutoring one child at a time. The others are in the sunroom, where all our “school stuff” resides. They can work independently in there. Then, one by one, they have their turn with me—to read or write or edit.
Sarah Annie and Karoline play nearby at the nature table, happy gnomes and felted fairies gladly giving inspiration to their imagination.
We didn’t stop with the garland. It was as if we could not get enough of the goodness of those leaves. We dipped another basket’s worth and they grace the nature table. From my “teacher spot,” my eye falls upon them frequently and I marvel at the unique, perfect beauty of each one.
God is so good! His gorgeous grandeur spills over into every corner of this house.
At the other end of the room is the couch where I began my day. Karoline likes to curl up there with me before everyone else is awake. She always wants me to read a preview of the day’s Bible story. I think she likes being a step ahead of the rest of the pack. All the Bible storybooks and several versions of Bibles reside in the tables on either side of the couch. They are read frequently here in this room, either silently or aloud together.
Right near the couch, the desk stands open, bearing full testimony to the great cloud of witnesses who intercede for us all year, but are remembered particularly in this season. Icons and dear little folk dolls glow in the candlelight.
Between visits from each child, I glance up from my "teacher spot." Inhale. Fill both lungs with the richness of this life of faith. We are praying the novena to all saints as a family, and I am revisiting my particular friends in private prayer time. The desk full of images reminds me of their care and nurturing, just as the pictures of my family nearby evoke memories and whispered prayers.
I love this room.
I love this home.
I love this life.