By Ashley Manley on | No Comments
Every day, I wake up with me feeling like sleep ended a few days too soon followed by breakfast, coffee, reheating the coffee, “Tell daddy you love him!”, waffles on the floor, the weatherman yelling at me, time to get dressed…should I go on? Maybe the details are different in your story, but I’m sure in some way you can relate to the morning hustle.
A few months ago, I introduced a morning walk into our routine to help with something, I’m not totally sure what. Let my coffee kick in? Let my kids burn off some of the energy they have? I can’t really say what my reason was. Regardless, we live in the country and are blessed with land that I encourage my kids to explore and I figured the morning was a good as any place to start. The walk is good for them, but it’s also good for me, for my soul. It sets a tone for the day of calm and curiosity, something I strive for but rarely feel like I achieve. We are often in PJs, walking with sleep in our eyes and coffee spilling from my mug, but our 20-minutes out walking nowhere have become my favorite parts of our day.
And it happened one day, that I can’t really say when (I’m so good at details, right?!) that I noticed the first Fall leaf. It was a cottonwood, yellow and brown, laying in our path. The days that followed I noticed more. Cottonwood leaves everywhere in a million shades of brown and yellow. The days were still warm for us here, but I knew Fall was coming.
Then I thought back on all the Fall seasons of my life, there have been exactly 7 of them (because growing up in the south, Fall isn’t really a thing). In those 7 autumn seasons, it seemed like the first colors would appear, the first scarf wearing days would kiss us, and then I would blink and the trees would be brown and naked and I would be under 48 layers of clothes. The season slipped by.
In an effort to slow it down, to enjoy the colors gradual appearances and the slowness of our mornings, I started carrying my camera on our walks. On every single one for the month of September and into October. I made photos of the last colors of the flowers, of my kids, the sky, the leaves. It was calming and creative and fun. It slowed our walks down even more, stopping my kids to show them what I was photographing. Piquing their curiosity in leaves and flowers and spider webs. I’m not one that usually follows a photo project that involves taking photos at a specific time unless it speaks to me, and this one did.
Even now as I look at these photos, my heart is overwhelmingly full and I feel so much joy. This season will go too fast, but I know I will have lived in it and squeezed every ounce of goodness out if it that I possibly can when the first blustery winter winds knock on our door.
So, if you are still reading this, I encourage you with a loud obnoxious voice filled with conviction and urgency and a slightly awkward laguh: find your morning walk, whether it’s driving your kids to school or supper time or bed time or game night with your spouse, and find a way to make that art. To preserve that story, to slow it down, and to squeeze all the sweetness you can out of it.