Scenes from a Time in Autumn

I want to remember this week forever. I want each and every detail of the past five days to return to me just as they happened, to spill over me fully in crystal-clear vignettes of crisp gray mornings and warm blue afternoons spent in a simpler place with the people I have always known. I want to be able call upon these memories whenever I need them.

My nephew Harrison at eight months old, bald and toothless, the tip of his nose reddened from a cold caught during his first weeks at daycare, leaning into my side in the big chair near the window as I read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to him once and then twice and then a third time while he slaps lightly at the pages and makes soft sounds, looking up at me with wide eyes and a wet grin before falling slowly to sleep, his head in my lap.

My mom and I standing on a sand-blown sidewalk near Pere Marquette Beach, my hands on her shoulders, the dunes at our backs, watching kitesurfers float in warm October gusts above the cresting green waves before drifting back to the surf, their kites—florescent greens and yellows—carving slow circles in a cloudless blue that spans forever.

Pushing my mom's wheelchair down a leaf-strewn path at Beechwood Park, Harrison asleep in his stroller, the rows of ancient oaks covering the sky with a canopy of orange and red and yellow and we stop to take pictures, attempting to capture a single falling leaf or a lasting burst of yellow, faces from the neighborhood nodding greetings as they pass.

Sitting on a leather ottoman in the middle of the living room, the sounds of Broadway musicals from another era playing softly from the stereo, the evening sky dimming over the lake while my mother and I look through old photographs until so much time has passed that I have to get up and turn on table lamps so we can continue.

Smelling dad's stir fry from the kitchen table, candles lit, drinks poured, my siblings and their partners and I laughing with one another, teasing each other about the young things we did long before we called places like Chicago and Dallas and San Francisco home, Harrison asleep in a blanket and the dogs asleep at our feet, exhausted from play.

Gripping my father's hand in the darkness as I pass by his chair to tell him I love him on my way to bed, the sleeping sounds of my mother audible from the couch beside him.

Knives and Kin

In our household nothing sharpens the claws of sibling rivalry quite like holiday crafting. Take this evening's pumpkin carving party at my parents' condo for example. In the days leading up to the event my siblings and I all conveyed, in some form or another, how much we weren't "really feeling up to" the whole pumpkin carving thing this year. Yet when tiny orange knife came to gourd, each of us scooped, scraped and sawed at our pumpkins with a focused fervor typically reserved for sporting events, and megachurches.

Although they all turned out great, I think it's safe to say that my pumpkin, with its incredibly high level of detail ("Wait, is that a real bat?") and useful alternate function as a Bat Signal (bring it inside the house, toss a candle in it and watch it glow like the device Commissioner Gordon and other members of the Gotham City Police Department use to summon Batman in times of crisis), stood a cut above the rest, even if my parents, the evening's unofficial judges, thought "the Michigan one" was "really cute" or whatever.

Get It Together, America

We were standing at the dining room table earlier this week, Sidney and I, pulling the stringy orange entrails out of a pumpkin purchased from a farmer's market in Berkeley when she said to me with a particularly juicy clump of innards in her grip, "You know what's weird?"

"Tell me," I responded as I continued to scrape at the interior walls of the mandarin-hued globe with a plastic spoon.

"It's weird how in school they teach you who the first president was, but not, like, who carved the first pumpkin."

"That is weird," I said. "But maybe the reason they don't teach you that in school is because nobody knows the answer."

She turned her attention back to the slick heap of guts in front of her and absentmindedly plucked out a few seeds before pausing to address me again. "There are a lot of mysteries like that these days, huh?"

"There are," I told her.

"Geez," she said shaking her head, disappointed. "It's like, just figure it out already, USA."