You come up stairs, around the corner and your sister is filling a pie with cherries and putting the kettle on. So you ask, "Is today the day then?"
And she nods. "It's today."
Three in the afternoon. When the sun has been wrapped all day in its blankets and the fields are filled with mud and autumn yellowed grasses, and you can feel the cold scratching through the cracks in your walls, and it's delicious.
I've never had an autumn like this one on our prairie. At least, one not like this one in a very very long time. All I want to do is stand out underneath its sky in a brown coat and wellies and close my eyes and just breathe.it.in.
So at three in the afternoon, this one afternoon that only comes once a year, I get out of my jammies and I dress like autumn. Scarf and slippers, my favorite jeans, and let my hair down long and free, and bring my tea cup from its place on my bookshelf.
There's a spoon in the sugar and Mama's apple teapot with Earl Grey steeping, and sister cuts the pie.
"Are you ready?" she asks.
After summers, hot and harsh, and wild days at lakes and yearning for boats, sweaty bodies and dirty garden hands. After all that, you're always ready for the day when that haunting voice reads the story that wraps about your soul, tugging with a magic calling from a child-corner of your mind you've never really let go of.
So all I say is, "Yes." This day comes but once a year, you're always ready for it.
And I take my tea and my slice of cherries in a pie, and sister waits till I am there, and we begin it.
Along a river, "always changing and always the same," Moley, Rat and his home on the bank and messing about in boats, of which there is nothing "half so much worth doing". A Toad who must be taught to be a proper Toad, and a wild wood beyond which is the wild world, and "that's something that doesn't matter, and never will, and you're never going there" anyway. Because it is all home here, and nothing matters but living in home and loving home and being content with home. With all you've got, all you've been given.
And there's just no words to end it, but this.
How it says all I feel, all I want to say but can't. How I want to capture it all before it dies away forever, and hold onto it until the next one day once a year, when the last few leaves still cling with one spindly arm to a branch and life, when I can hold it again like a little light inside me.