• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Autumn Contemplation


On my desk, I have a little pile of heart-shaped stones. The hearts are made from rose quartz, amethyst, carnelian, jasper, and a blackish stone that I don’t know the name of. There’s a heart-shaped river stone that my daughter gave me when she was a little girl; she found it in our garden. It’s my favorite.

That these small pieces of stone surround me every day is a comfort. Their smooth cool surfaces are reassuring beneath my fingers. And anything that reassures is welcome right now. Who needs more uncertainty?

Today is my parents’ wedding anniversary. They would have been married for 85 years if they were still here. Their marriage was one of those reassuring things when they were alive. That I was born 25 years into their marriage meant that I arrived after many of their disagreements were already worked out, after they had developed a rhythm and routine to how they lived together. That sort of solid example is one I’ve carried with me into my marriage to my partner Mick; we are 27 years in. Like those stones on my desk, this marriage is here every day, solid and mostly smooth.

I like these bits of solidity, these reminders both large and small that there are things to fall back on no matter how unsettled the world might be. Collections of stones. People I love. Recipes that feed us well. Books that take us far outside ourselves. Favorite songs. Sitting still.

I’m not ready for the seasonal shift for the first time I can remember, not ready to leave summer and move into the season of indoor activities. But adjustments will be made no matter what, the nights will lengthen, the snow will fall, and we will keep the windows closed. It’s the solitude I’m a little worried about, the fact that it’s not safe to have dinner parties this year, or celebrate holidays indoors with family and friends who don’t live with us. But I can pick up a stone heart anytime, hold it in my hand for a few seconds, think about my kids, my parents, my partner, and all that reassures me, knowing that fall and winter are just the rest periods that make way for new growth.


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