Friday, October 26, 2012

The Middle Ages

One recent Sunday, we went to the local park, where we met up with some friends we had not seen in a while. There was much to report. Growing families, grandparents and even some parents in declining health, who would be taking care of the mother in-law? Life changes were falling around us like jewel colored leaves off a tree.

"The Martin dairy farm is going up for auction this week," she told me, shading her eyes from the sun. They'd be heading out to the county to watch the neighboring farmers bid on the old home place.

"No one wants it?" I asked in disbelief.

"Nope. With six brothers and only one of them farming...it will be sad. What about your grandparent's house?"

Oh, that. Up for sale. Open house today. It's my mom's old home place and it's been tough for her.

I looked at my friend, still thin as a sheet of paper turned sideways. Probably still cutting her dress from the same pattern as when she was sixteen. But wait, are those some gray strands of hair I see peeking out in the front? Did she notice mine?

"These are the kind of things you talk about when you are middle aged," she said with a smile.

Middle aged. 

My friend, who is a few years my junior, was whole-heartedly, joyfully, embracing the concept of a time in life we call middle aged. She was at peace with it, and felt no pressure to be seen as the young women we were ten or fifteen years ago. I loved that. It validated something I always say, which is, you better love whatever age you are and claim it. If you have a problem with forty, you'll have a bigger problem fifty. Have a problem with fifty? Seventy will probably kill you. 

Photo courtesy of friend and frequent commenter BATMom. Don't you love it?
 I remember when I was getting married, thinking what a relief it was that I would never have to worry about who I was going to marry ever again. No more worries about finding the right man, or having to plan my life around the unknown. My middle age feels a little bit like that, in that I no longer wonder who I'll grow up to be, what I'll be like when I'm established. The fruit of the decisions made in the past are here, and ripe. Some are sweet and juicy, a few are seconds I hope to turn into sauce or jam. Either way, I'm the grown up that I knew I'd be someday, and while I'm committed to being a lifelong learner, the peak of the mountain has a wonderful surprise at the top. You can look down and see your youthful worries, indiscretions, and insecurities fading as you climb higher, disappearing as they become smaller. Meanwhile, the view around you is lovely. 

Sometimes I see something and think, oh, I've always liked that. Other times it's more like, oh, if you had told me twenty years ago that I would like this I'd have thought you were crazy. I love how we never stop growing and changing.  

I'm okay with being middle aged, even calling it that. It is a grateful life we lead that we can choose a favorite season that comes around every year, greeting us like an old friend. Then there are the seasons of life that come, stay for a while, and are gone forever having served their purpose. While the warm harvest of summer will always be my favorite time of year, I can enter this season of life peacefully, with confidence that an exciting hay ride awaits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

For Your Family Bookshelf

A cold and dry winter is being predicted for the north east. A rumor was going around that if corn doesn't peek out of their husks by harvest time, a cold winter is coming. Someone said a local farmer admitted that he hadn't seen so much as a kernel.

The geese know something. They are honking their departure while flying overhead in a southerly direction.

This is the time of year that makes me want to delve into some good reading, but alas, my reading life has really been a closed book since becoming a mother. It's so hard to find uninterrupted time to really engage in a good story. That's why I was very excited when an unexpected gift arrived containing a light, fun, and cozy book that I could really take my time reading.

My lovely friend Mary Ann Kinsinger is making quite a splash with her book Life with Lily, the first in a series, and a cooperative effort with author Suzanne Woods Fisher. The book is based on her childhood, and I love Mary Ann's wholesome and authentic recollections. This would be the perfect book to read aloud to your family, because all ages can enjoy it. One of Mary Ann's writing talents is the ability to express a child's point of view, so that you can really identify with how the child thinks and why they say such cute things. For instance, when Lily's younger brother was born, she is told by her father that God brought him. She immediately wonders whether God is still visiting at their home, and if so, will she get to meet him?

It's not an equal comparison, but the feel of the book reminds me of The Little House series, which is also beloved by children and adults alike. It's good, clean family entertainment.

If you haven't seen Mary Ann's blog A Joyful Chaos, do check it out.

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