Fall Back: Are you ready?

The air changes in the fall. Becoming crisper and thinner, it has a way of invigorating you while tempting you to sit quietly with a cup of hot chocolate or the harbinger Pumpkin Spice Latte. For many it marks the end of summer, freedom and flexibility. Packing away shorts and bathing suits, sweaters and scarves take their place in the drawers. Trips to the beach give way to bonfires. For others, it marks the beginning of winter with its structure and compressed expectations.

Farmers watching the sky for rain, check the temperature and the forecasts, anticipating the timing of harvesting crops. Too soon and they aren’t ready. Too late and the frost or storms may wipe out a year of work. Anticipation shadowed by fear. The trees dropping their leaves and fruit remind us that time passes quickly. The shorter days prompt us to be more deliberate in our use of the light hours.

For teachers, students and parent, fall means back to school in one form or another. Back to carpools and lunch boxes, back to missing homework and permission slips, back to routine and rhythm that will just be established by the time Christmas break rolls around and everyone lets out a sigh of relief. The books and classes, a challenge to grow personally and mentally while the fields lie dormant and still.

Fall Back has been the easy way to remember the artificial change of the clocks. The illusion of an extra hour of sleep, an extra hour of daylight in the morning, an extra hour of life, gives a sense of cheating nature and getting just a little ahead of the game. Make no mistake. It is a game.

Trust Falls have been around since team building became a thing. The idea of falling backward and trusting your team or partner to catch you revealed a lot about who was trustworthy and who wasn’t. For those with serious trust issues, knowing who literally had your back made all the difference when it came to the moment of falling.

Fall itself is untrustworthy. One morning you bundle up to face the chill of the day only to find yourself shedding the sweater because the warmth of the afternoon lures you back for one more trip to the beach. Unexpected days off from school tease with the freedom of summer. Leaves change colors and fall to the ground without questioning if the ground will catch them, if they are supposed to fall, or if the wind that shakes them is for their good or an attack. Just as you start to get settled, the wind blow through stirring up those leaves and hinting of snow to follow. Fall by nature, no pun intended, is unsettling and settling at the same time.

Fall invites questions. It’s uncertainty makes us prepare and second guess our preparations. Plans are at the whim of the weather, and like the weather, subject to sudden change. Without fall, the fields and the trees do not rest, trust is not tested, and the stark contrast between summer and winter would be vicious, leaving many caught unprepared. Are you ready to catch those who trust you to be there for them? Do they keep looking over their shoulder to make sure you are there or do they just know you are?

As sure as the leaves fall, you will fall. Those you love will fall. Those you look up to or count on will fall. The days will get colder and shorter. Bring your harvest into the barn. Open the books and your mind. Glance over your shoulder and see who is there to catch you. Put on your sweater and go for a walk. Breath in the crisp air and if you find a big pile of leaves…fall back.

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