• One Minnesota Writer

The Leaves are Changing and So Am I

A yellow leaf has appeared in our backyard birch trees - a small harbinger of autumn.

My usual summer hiatus went way too fast. Those of us on the other side of 50 understand how life speeds up, how each season feels shorter than it did last year. And the need to make every moment count becomes more urgent.

For me, that urgency is met by tossing out any schedule I have in order to do something new. I stopped most of my writing over the summer, learned more about pouring paint, set up a painting studio in our laundry room, took more photos, went camping for the first time in my adult life, tried the Sealey Challenge (a challenge to read a book of poetry each day in August). I spent every Wednesday, except for one, with my granddaughter Camille and we tried to do something different every time. We hiked (Camille wasn't a fan), biked (Camille wasn't really a fan of that either), went to the beach (that one was better), tie-dyed (Camille loved this), baked cakes (also well-received), played games (Mastermind was the big hit), watched movies, and hung out. At ten, Camille is changing; she wanted to sit at our kitchen counter and just talk sometimes. I was surprised at that and also delighted that she wanted to talk with me. Her whole world is going to shift this fall when her parents - my son and his wife - have another child. Camille will become a big sister in November.

Everything I did this summer was a respite from the past several years. Not just from the routine of weekly blog posts, but also from much bigger things: the divisiveness on our country, the pandemic, climate change, violence, all the -isms that need to be fixed. That I could take a respite is a privilege, of course, and it is one that I do not want to squander. I will find ways to offer respite to someone else who needs it.

Now, with September already half-gone, I'm thinking about what to continue from my summer fun, what to discard from my writing life moving forward. I'm thinking about a different website for 2022, perhaps retiring this one. It's all very in flux. Next year, I'll have a new granddaughter to get to know. My partner is retiring from his position at the University of Minnesota. Change will unfurl like a giant banner over our lives, encourage us to embrace a different rhythm.

For now, there is the barest hint of yellow in the leaves on our birch trees. This morning, a hummingbird visited the bright orange begonias outside our patio doors then peered through the glass for a split second before zipping away. I was delighted by that tiny creature, imagined how it would be to fly fast for pure joy.

And that's what I'm going to concentrate on in the near future. Moving through life, finding the pure joy and figuring out how to share it. Joy, after all, is not something we should keep to ourselves.

Summer fun - starting at top, left to right: paint pouring experiments in my garage, on the trail in Scenic State Park in northern Minnesota, at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden, backyard robins bathing, with Mick at Interstate Park near Taylors Falls on my birthday, another shot at Interstate Park, one of the goats who cleared brush at Minnesota Native Landscapes production farm in central Minnesota, monarch on liatris at Minnesota Native Landscapes, with my daughter in Duluth.

One More Thing

I'm not the only creative person in my family. My sister, Trish Cassen, is a fabric artist and photographer based in Colorado. Her work includes fabric dying, art quilts, and creative cards. She recently launched her new site, trishcassen.com. Have a look!

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