We are falling into fall and it is important to acknowledge the seasons we live in and live through during times such as these. The leaves are changing colors, animals are preparing for winter and we feel the change that comes with increasing darkness and the cool of the evenings. We are watching changes daily, in the climate, in the unity we once took comfort in, in the compatibility of our relationships, in the composition of our communities and our schools. We are coming out of summer, the easy, carefree days and winter looms ahead with its cold darkness, but we are in fall now. We can prepare.
The fall holidays are times of reflection and celebration. We look into ourselves and we look bravely into the night, taunting the things that scare us most. We share these rituals with our children and encourage them to look inside with an open heart and look into the impending darkness with courage.
Falling, with children, requires more planning, more practice and we can begin by helping our children notice the smallest thing, the smallest changes and differences this season brings. The leaves changing colors, the acorns falling while the grasses dry and whither. Children can notice the crunchy leaves and the scurry of the squirrels. It’s a time for the children to settle in to their routines, the new school year with new curriculum and friendships.
We can give our children tastes of fall from apples dipped in honey to pumpkin and cider. The rituals of fall help children get into the rhythm of this season, the coming together with family and the celebrations with friends. Visiting a fall festival or a pumpkin patch is a great way to let children experience the sights and smells of a fall day. There are petting zoos, hayrides and face painting and, best of all, the chance to pick a pumpkin. Some farms and pumpkin patches have fall vegetables to purchase, too, which can be a fun start to cooking soup together, another ritual to share.
Fall, as the weather cools, is a great time to take hikes in the local mountains to feel the season. The, orange, red, yellow and brown scenery and the trickle of small streams inspire the imagination and the more comfortable weather allows for longer hikes and great picnics. Getting children out into nature inspires their imagination and allows them to detach from technology, to escape the reality we contend with each day. The stress of our modern world is unavoidable for us, but sadly, also for our children. Even if we do our best to shelter them, children are exposed to a lot of reality through media, overheard conversations and their friends at school. We are constantly faced with challenges raising children but a great gift we can give them is the gift of spending time together in nature, a time to reset and rediscover what is most important in life.
Fall is a time to listen. We can listen to the wind as it blows drying leaves off the trees and music from wind chimes. We can listen to the cheers of spectators at sporting events, baseball playoffs, soccer games and football stadiums filled with crowds. We can hear the excitement in the air and the enthusiasm at a Friday night high school football game as someone heroically scores a touchdown and cheers erupt. We can hear the marching band as they work together in unison to create a visual and auditory display of spirit.
Fall is a community time as people come together to support schools by volunteering at and attending harvest and Halloween carnivals, supporting young athletes by attending games, supporting artists by attending performances and supporting community volunteers who maintain trails, serve as State Park docents, and watch over our local mountains to protect them from fires and to protect wildlife. Coming together to prepare for colder, darker days ahead creates community and allows us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Communities allow children to feel they are a part of something caring and important as their world enlarges from the family to include the school community and the greater community including other families.
We are living in a time where family is increasingly important, serving as a circle of security and protection from the uncertainty we see on the news daily. We are living in a time when the importance of community, of preparing, of supporting each other is clear.
We can help our children move through the seasons bravely and with the hope of a warm shelter during the winter and a bright, rebirth of spring ahead. We can prepare for the future by using the fall to gather our thoughts, gather our supplies and formulate our plan for creating the future we want for our community, for ourselves and, most importantly, for our children.