The first taste of fall.

It came as a more of a scent than a taste, though the feeling of it lingered on my tongue as I climbed into bed last night. That first chill in the evening air- the one that signals the end of mosquito season and the beginning of lawns littered with neon hues of red, orange, and brown- caught all five of us up in its promise of havoc.

Autumn brings the havoc of preparations for hibernation. The life around us swirls as the breezes shake the leaves from the trees. There’s a sort of rapture that comes with the change in the seasons, the harvest festivals, the cannings, the preparation of fall and winter gardens, all simplified by the invigorating crispness of the air.

Walking home from Bunica’s- our bellies filled with delicious food- we decided to whisk the little people into their pajamas and then ushered everyone outside into the backyard for a little early autumn stargazing session. Max and Micah brought along their sleeping bags and preferred pillows, while Milla added her Snuffie to the mix.

Though the clouds obscured a large percentage of possible stars, the half-moon winked bright and silver over the backyard lawn. So we agreed to a change in plans. With a little help from Goyte and our boombox, we started a playlist and watched as the dance party started itself.

Before long, the kids were bouncing around in the moonlight, skipping with their silver shadows, eyes closed, hands outstretched, bringing down the house for Sister Moon. It wasn’t long before Max posed a question- “Mom, why do you keep calling this a moondance?”

“Because,” I began, somewhat self-consciously, “We’re dancing for the moon…..”

“Oh.” He kept dancing, but didn’t seem sure enough of his steps. I thought for a second, and then added, “A moondance is a dance you do for the moon. You are dancing for anyone else but her right now. Just close your eyes and do what you would you do if only the moon could see and understand you.”

It didn’t take a minute for Max’s dance steps to speed up. The King joined the kids on the moonlit lawn, everyone shaking it up for the moon. Then a game of “shooting stars” began (Max’s idea, of course), in which dancing combined with chasing and racing to find little people rolling like caterpillars over the grass. After wearing themselves out a bit, the little people clambered back onto their sleeping bag palette, only the sounds of fighting, tussling, and giggles escaping.

I wandered into the garage to get a drink only to realize that Goyte was begging for a little strobe light to add disco to the dance. So I stood by the switch of our solitary outdoor light, flicking it on and off and on and off again to the beat as the wild threesome began their dances anew on the lawn. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hanker a bit of disco dancing myself, but second-hand fun is something my kids have taught me to appreciate like nothing else in life. So our fall begins with a moondance and a few handfuls of stolen pixie dusted moments. It’s enough to fill my heart to the brim with joy.

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