Asa is 3 1/2 months old now. He was such a scrawny thing when he was born - a little bag of bones. But he's fattened up beautifully. Occasionally I'll look up from what I am doing and see a big smile on his chubby face, looking at me. I am hilarious. He sits in his swing and tells his story to whomever will listen. He was born on the nativity feast of John the Baptist (June 24) and so we gave him a second middle name, Jean-Baptiste. The older children are smitten with him. They pause in their play to come kiss his warm, fuzzy head.
What a blessing children are. They overwhelm me, cover me like autumn leaves.
Fall is when "every leaf becomes a flower" (as, I believe, Nietzsche once said). Family, holidays, the final weeks of ordinary time. Christ the King. Cider and donuts, Campfires and hayrides. Pumpkins. Spice. The sweep and crunch that calls one into the yard. The smell of burning leaves and the sound of rakes scraping cold earth. Runny noses and cold, happy cheeks. Warm blankets and thick socks.
We spent the summer in Michigan. On the way out the door, I sprained or fractured my ankle. But ice and ibuprofen work wonders. The 18 hour trip that followed wasn't terrible. And when we arrived in Michigan, work helped the healing. I helped my mom and dad with their ice cream-pizza shop over the summer - a seasonal, summer operation on a lake. And, of course, they helped us. I fell in love with Michigan all over again while I was there. And while I had very few free days, we spent them fully visiting the Mackinac Bridge and the U.P. We hunted for petoskey stones while breathing lapis skies. Lake Michigan and Michigan lakes - it is hard to top them. Trip in northern Michigan and you stumble into another state park or national forest. It is home. It is family.
Family is difficult and lovely. Often we try too hard. We try to force family - something that can't be forced. You fall into family. Yes we bicker and get on each other's nerves. That's OK. We are broken and warted, all of us. But we are family. We participate in life together. We generously make room for one another. We accept all that is given, and give everything in return. It can be frightening. It is dangerous being real. But damn the torpedoes.