10.25.13 This is in front of the first house we lived in here in Montana. It was in October, seventeen years ago. I cannot believe it was that long ago. I walked around with my camera the other day, trying to capture the canopy of golden Maple leaves that close in the entire length of the street. I remembered the Sunday morning many years ago, on the third week-end in October, when ALL the leaves came off the trees at the same moment, fluttering to the ground for as far as the eye could see. Neighbors came out to stand on the sidewalk, and we delighted in the shower and sound of millions of leaves twirling in the sunshine to blanket the green grass. In the span of a few minutes, all the trees were bare. They had all changed over to winter trees at once.
It’s a spectacular neighborhood for a quintessential Halloween with creaking tree branches arching over the street like menacing witches’ fingers. Families drive in from miles around to the historic neighborhood which is appropriately decorated with ghosts and skeletons, scary sounds and witches waiting on porches for excited and frightened trick-or-treaters. A neighbor used a counter one year and clocked in 1500 costumed children at her door.
After we left that grand old home and moved down to the lake, the house haunted me for a long time. It sat empty for three years as we waited for it to sell, and I couldn’t go in to check on things without being reduced to tears. After awhile, I had to leave it all up to Don; it was too sad, too painful for me. I avoided driving by it for many years after we moved away.
It’s taken a decade for me to come to terms with it. As warm and comfortable as the house was, it never really felt like ours. I guess that was inevitable since we had decided to operate it as a public house, a Bed and Breakfast Inn. I used to think that the suffering I experienced when we left was because I had made such a big mistake in thinking I’d enjoy running such an enterprise. How could I be so clueless, just about to turn 50 years old!
Now, I treat those memories tenderly. I think it had to do with all the changes that happened to me, all at once, that year we moved into the house. We’d left our dear friends and family, 1142 miles behind in Colorado; all three girls were scattered off to colleges around the country; we’d both “retired” from our jobs; I was turning 50. And my Mom died. My Mom, who always said to me at the end of our phone conversations, “I wish you’d come see me soon.” I just didn’t know she was going to die.
We all appreciate that the only thing we can really count on is “change”, of course. When I watch the October light move across my living room, I’m always amazed at how quickly it changes as the earth turns in her orbit around the sun. On my yoga mat, I try to stay with the breath coming in, and then going out–a moment come and gone. But, sometimes in life, there are so many changes at once, or so life-altering, that it just rattles our bones.