Anyone who has welcomed a new baby to their world has heard of the nesting instinct — that desire to put in place every supply, every space, every tool ahead of the life-changing arrival.
I have no new babies in my future. And yet, the urge to organize, plan, prepare is strong every year right about now.
Fall is my nesting season.
After summer’s travels and chaos and jump-in-with-two-feet-at-every-moment, I am more than ready, come September, to clean and purge, to find better spaces for the things I use every day, and to pack — or give away — all that I no longer need.
This year — was it our summer playroom renovation? my high schooler getting ready to fly the coop? the unrelenting presence of Marie Kondo? — my impulse to order was particularly strong.
For the last two months I have spent every “free” moment boxing up and moving out, giving away and recycling, repacking and storing and framing and hanging.
It is tedious — dare I say thankless — work. But it feels, somehow, at a cellular level, right for this time of year.
I have written before about fall’s flavors, how they are deeper and richer than the refreshing crunch of summer. I have shared, too, how the many celebrations this time of year make for a quarter of connectedness and catching up.
It seems natural that a fall cleaning, a taking stock of what has been and a looking forward to what will be should walk hand-in-hand with these changes at the table and in the living room.
Metaphorically, we are pulling out our summer plants. We are weeding and tidying, getting rid of the broken tomato cages. We are a flock of chickens losing our feathers from last year as the fading light signals that it’s time to create a new coat to keep us warm. We are squirrels burying nuts and spiders leaving our egg sacs in protected spaces.
In our modern world, we drive around in metal boxes and hold incredible communication devices to our ears. We eat from boxes and peek into far-reaching corners of the world via screens.
And yet ….
For me, anyway, there is still this seasonal pull, this rhythm of the year that prompts me to live in a way that is bigger than my little brick colonial life.
So, when the angle of the light shifts in early September, I begin preparing my nest for winter. By the start of November, I am there: garden tucked away, bedrooms cleared of the year’s no-longer-needed T-shirts and plastic cups and festival prizes. I have given away the forgotten toys and the too-short pants. I am ready for the celebrations and the resolutions that are around the corner.
I have looked back, and mourned a little at the world I will no longer inhabit again. Now I’m looking ahead at all that I cannot know awaits me and mine. And I feel ready.