Autumn then and now

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Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons.

As a kid, it meant heading back to school, playing in (and raking) tons of leaves in our yard, and looking forward to Halloween and my birthday.

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When I was a single, working adult there wasn’t much different about the fall from other seasons, but I still enjoyed the beautiful colors that we have here in Michigan.

Then marriage and kids came along, and it was so much fun to watch autumn through my daughters’ eyes. One of my favorite pictures of the three girls is of them almost buried in leaves, arms around each other, smiling.

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I asked the girls now, 7 years later, if they’d let me re-create this photo, and got a resounding NO from the teenagers. It wasn’t the leaves they have a problem with, but the posing and the sisterly closeness. Sigh.

As a mom, fall again means back to school – for the girls nowadays. Raking leaves, check. And with Halloween being Abbi’s most favorite holiday, we tend to celebrate all month long in October. When the girls were small, we always made time to take them to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. It was part of our autumn tradition.

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Cider and donuts, choosing pumpkins, hay rides, picking apples…

School-aged kids brought in new traditions as well. Picking out school supplies and first-day outfits. Soccer game sidelines. Our weekends began to fill up.

Then – teenagers…

For the past few years, we’ve had new traditions. Fall isn’t just about pumpkins, school and soccer games anymore. Abbi is a high school junior and Hannah a freshman – and both are in our school’s varsity marching band this year.

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When Abbi was a freshman and I was a new band mom, I didn’t realize how much my Octobers would change. Almost weekly, our Friday nights mean football games and Saturdays are filled with rehearsals and competitions.

What I discovered, is that I love watching bands perform. If the weather is nice, I am perfectly content, happy even, to sit outdoors enjoying the fall sunshine and watching/listening to marching  bands. From the smallest schools to the largest, every kid out there wears their school band uniform proudly and puts on the very best performance they can.

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So when our band competes, I try to go early and watch as many of the other schools as I can. And then head back afterward to help inspect uniforms as the kids put them away. It’s a lot different from what fall weekends used to be… But now when I see the leaves begin to change color and the summer breeze turn to cool fall gusts, I know where I’ll be if the weather’s nice.

I lost my band watching partner this year now that Hannah’s marching with ours. Becca isn’t as excited about the idea of spending hours on bleachers, but I’m working on her. She’s coming to state finals with me in November and is excited to watch her sisters march at Ford Field. As a beginning saxophone player herself this fall, I expect that I’ll have several years yet of band watching ahead of me.

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This year’s marching band show is a challenging one for the kids to perform. Abbi and Hannah start and end the show jazz running while carrying 10-foot pvc pipe poles with streamers attached. It is, however, incredible to watch as the show begins with ‘fire’ and brings things back to ‘earth’ at the end. I can’t wait to see what next year’s show will offer.

Even if we haven’t made it to a pumpkin patch yet this autumn, I look around at the colorful trees, and Abbi’s Halloween decorations plastered all over the house. And yes, it still feels like fall.