The window is open in this house tonight, letting the summer out and the cool autumn air in. It's dark before 10 now and the crickets in the grass are louder than the frogs in the creek.
On the ranch, we mark time by seasons a bit differently. Calving season. Branding season. Haying season. Roundup.
The hay is nearly hauled off the fields now and because the leaves on the ash and oak trees are putting on their short and beautiful show, and the tomatoes in my garden are turning red and thriving despite my neglect, I am declaring it my favorite time of year.
Even though it's fleeting.
Even though it means 17 months of winter.
Last week, I watched my baby use her tiny fingers to pull up the grass in her great-grandparents' lawn beside a lake in Minnesota as my grandpa united my cousin in marriage to his bride. Beside me, family gathered from around the country, sitting in crisp white chairs to witness a marriage ceremony performed by a man who knows them all.
And knows about love.
I stood up in front of them then and sang a song I wrote about the promises we keep for the long haul.
"When you were a younger man, you used to laugh and turn your face up, at all the words we've made up, there's only one for love..."
We're one step into a new season of our life together, my husband and I. We're raising these children and trying to teach them about love without date nights or Champagne toasts, but with divide-and-conquer chores, suppers on the table too late, Daddy falling asleep rocking the baby while Mommy works way past bedtime...
There are a hundred thousand million ways we show one another devotion and I'm ashamed when I have to be reminded in the middle of this life to stop, take a breath, give a kiss, hold a hand and stop acting like we have forever because we only have today.
The night before we packed up the kids and our good clothes to head to the lake, my husband had to remind me. To take a breath with him. To remember where it all started.
My grandpa has been married to my grandma for 64 years. I'm certain along the line somewhere they've had to remind one another, too.
No love is perfect.
But in the entire world, I can't think of a better man to stand before two people on the threshold of their marriage and remind us all that at the end of the day, at the end of the season, who did the most dishes or swept the most floors or changed the most diapers won't matter.
But making each other breakfast will. That will matter.
And on the ranch, we mark the passing of time by the work we have done. And maybe my favorite season is fall - for the roundup, or the harvest - because it reminds us of what cannot be done alone.
And who we need beside us as we face the winter...