All tucked in

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

We have been experiencing a beautiful stretch of fall weather. The maples glowed in golds, roses, and reds. The sunrises and sunsets were glorious. But as the trees release their leaves, and the geese and sandhill cranes begin their boisterous revivals in the stubbled rows of the corn fields, we know cold weather will soon arrive.

At our house, we are preparing for winter: Our furnace has been checked and serviced; our pantry has been reorganized and restocked; the portable generator has been started and filled. These preparations help me feel safe. Protected.

When we were children, our parents had a strict bedtime for us: 7:30 sharp. We said good night to Dad, brushed our teeth, put on our pajamas, crawled between the sheets of our little beds, and waited for our mother to “tuck us in.” Sometimes we waited awhile, but Mom always made the nightly climb to our rooms, brushing the hair from our foreheads, kissing our cheeks. She smoothed and straightened the sheets and blankets, lifted the edge of the mattress, and tucked all the bedding in tightly around each one of us.

She said things like, “Sweet Dreams!” and “Sleep Tight!” What a blessing and lovely ritual. I wish all children could feel this safe and secure.

I loved tucking in our young children. How precious it was to kiss the tops of their sweet-smelling heads, feel their little arms encircle my neck for a hug, and listen to their quiet conversations at night. Our home felt at peace — everything and everyone were at rest.

That’s how it feels to me once we are prepared for winter: it feels like being “tucked in.”

Animals in nature do their own version of this, especially those who hibernate.

There’s a sandy bank along the road to our old family farm. Here lives a prolific woodchuck family. Members of their clan have lived there as long as I can remember, chewing the grasses and wild strawberries along the gravelly edges of the pavement. I imagine through their generations, they have improved their extensive tunnels and rooms. Soon they will go underground for the winter.

The woodchucks have been feasting all summer and have grown so large that they ripple when running across the road. I wonder about their BMI? What does it take to live off those fat reserves for months? They look healthy and content, ready to crawl into their beds, tucking in for the long winter days ahead.

Early October, my husband and I took a color drive, staying in several places in northern Michigan, ending at our family’s cabin on the northern shore of Lake Superior. When we arrived, the temperature was in the sixties, but the next day the temperature dipped into the upper thirties and didn’t break forty again during our stay.

We didn’t care.

We were buttoned up tight in the old cabin. We kept a fire going in the fireplace and woodstove the entire time. We talked, played cribbage, read books, and prepared simple meals. It was cozy. It was relaxing.

We were safely tucked in.

It’s a Fine Life

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