“I live a charmed life,” I say as the weekend came to a close.
“It’s the company you keep,” she teases back.
For close to 30 years Gretchen has gathered a group of women to her lake home to honor autumn’s start. Pumpkins, pots of chili, and piles of pillows greet us upon our arrival. We prepare by packing away our phones and putting on our comfiest clothes. Karla brings the red Twizzlers. I bring the red wine. No one spends much time talking about the Big Red football game.
We are here for the company we keep.
The company this year was like most. Women who are my role models. Women who challenge me. Women who support one another.
Tami brings the perfect kale salad with nuts and berries, reminding me I can nourish myself happily with options beyond the perfect tiny squares of dark chocolate brownies that kept calling me. Molly listens attentively, never interrupting while I burst in with a tale of my own twice as often as I wish I had. Sherrill, who once routinely got up at five in the morning to see her heart patients, had that day got up at the same hour to serve breakfast to hungry homeless immigrant children.
A combination of curiosity, courage, and caring caused a light to shine on my life. I saw so much to celebrate and plenty more to reflect on further. “Whatever happened to that cowboy you were seeing?” “Didn’t you say you were going to work on a book this year?” “Have you started thinking about retirement?” (Gone. Yes. No.)
The nearly full moon poked through the pines and from time to time one of the women would stand and silently place another log on the fire. We watched the flames turn to embers hour after hour. Since last year, Mary had traveled to five continents, three of us had buried family members, two had fallen in love, and one had a child in rehab. Admiration, appreciation, and acknowledgment were abundant as we shared the unfolding of our lives.
By Sunday I had seen hummingbirds at the feeder, the moon and the stars away from city lights, and the steam rise from my coffee as we snuggled under blankets on the porch enchanted by the morning light and the geese on the lake. Each autumn my life is charmed anew by these simple gifts of the season wrapped in connection.
I owe it to the company I keep.
What rituals help you to honor the next season in your life?
Are you pausing to enjoy the simple pleasures in your life?
What do you appreciate about the company you keep?