Write about a: hardening.
Yesterday I promised Max that I would take him to gym time this morning since StrongStart was cancelled yesterday and he hasn't been spending all that much time with other kids lately. So I figured I could take him to the drop-in parent and toddler time at the community center to make up for it.
So, of course, when we arrived we discovered that it, too, had been cancelled. And the library wasn't even open, taking away that option.
Feeling rather annoyed about the whole thing, I said screw it and took Max into the empty gym, found a bouncy ball in his bag, and we made do. We had fun chasing it around and climbing on the bleachers and exploring various nooks and crannies.
Though it did break my heart just a little bit every time Max stopped, looked around, and said, "No kids."
I do not need to see the leaves transforming from green to gold or red to know that the season is changing. I can feel it in the earth beneath my feet. The way it greets me each morning with an unyielding hand. How it does not soften until late afternoon. How quickly it hardens once again, before night has fully fallen.
Soon it will be time to harvest our gardens, to retrieve and store whatever sustenance the too few seeds that were sown in the spring have blessed us with. Before the soil finds a grip comfortable enough to last all winter, one that cannot be broken by our meager shovels and weakened fingers.
There are other signs as well. I can see the coming cold in the faces of those who have lived through it before. Hard lines cluster at the corner of their mouths and eyes, jaw muscles struggle to contain clipped replies.
I know winter is drawing near when mistakes that would be laughed away in the heat of summer are no longer tolerated. The margin for error is shrinking, shriveling with each passing day. It is time to prepare for the long winter ahead.
Or each of us shall pay the price all too soon.