Outside the leaves are beginning to change and our taste buds now long for all-things pumpkin. Gone are the flip-flops and tank tops; in are the boots and bulky sweaters.
It’s the time of year when I see familiar faces in passing and hear: “Have you guys closed up the camp yet?”
“No, not yet. It’s not even October!” They laugh, knowing what I mean. It’s not that we are holding on for an unusually warm autumn day, we’re simply holding on. To the memories. To the place that, no matter what is changing around us, stays the same.
Every year from Memorial Day until Labor Day, camp cradles our sorrows and celebrates our joys simply by being a place where all “labels” attached to us are left in the dust of a dirt road. September is the month I pause and reflect on the importance of simplicity. The simplicity taught to me by summers at camp.
We can always count on the screen door making its initial slam followed by three faint echoes as it slows to a close. We may rearrange the furniture and test out new shades of green on the shed to match our ever-changing taste in paint color, but the heart of the camp has remained for generations. The loons will always call, the voices will always carry across the lake and the youngest kids (maybe more accurately, the adults) will always screech at the sight of a snake making its way to shore.
More importantly than any of those camp staples are the lessons I’ve learned in the face of familiarity. Once October arrives, I don’t long to sit on the porch, getting lost in the ripples of the dark blue water during those long, fall and winter months. Being at camp has taught me to live in each moment. To not wish I were anywhere else. In fact, I wonder if camp would lose it’s novelty if it were a year round destination? Often times new visitors to camp will say something like “I bet you’d live out here all year if it were winterized.” I respond by politely nodding, half wondering what it would be like and half glad I’ll never have to find out.
As the loose summer routine is taken over by a schedule dictated by school and work and fall activities, I remember the importance of letting go but making sure “busy” doesn’t take over our lives.
There’s something beautifully terrifying about transition. When the seasons change, it’s easy to reflect on how different life has become even over the course of the past few months. We think about the days ahead, perhaps making new goals or revamping old ones.
Maybe the greatest dirt road lesson is this: It’s good to know who we are as long as we’re willing to change. It’s ironic, in a way, to gain that perspective from years of revisiting a place that ultimately doesn’t change. But perhaps that’s what we need to feel comfortable in transition … a place of stillness, within or otherwise, that allows you to be exactly who you are.