When I was little, I always wanted my mom to read me a bedtime story. Without missing a beat and with no guilt, she’d reply, “Story, story, ‘bout a cow, that’s a story for you now” and walk away.
Wait … what?
She was a tender, loving woman who would literally give anyone the shirt off her back, but she had no time for bedtime stories. I guess with nine children, she figured that by that hour, she was rounding third and heading home for the day. Enough was enough. She had given us life, after all. What more did we want?
Maybe because of this, when my kids were little, I loved reading them bedtime stories. Sure, sometimes it was a pain when I was exhausted or in a hurry. But overall, I treasured the ritual of throwing them into the tub, jammying them up and plunging into Are You My Mother?, Runaway Bunny, Guess How Much I Love You, Hush Little Baby, and of course, Good Night Moon.
Good night noises everywhere
These days, the skies are getting gray, hanging heavy, like a shroud over my eyes. I feel like I’m sleepwalking, carrying the low hanging clouds on my back, as I pop vitamin D tablets like candy, trying to buoy myself out of the doldrums. Out in the country, the world seems to be bedding down for a long winter’s nap. I feel moved to say good night to the world, as if I were reading a children’s bedtime book. If I were to write one, I imagine it would go something like this:
The Whole Wide World is Going to Sleep
Summer is over and fall is coming to an end. The first smell of winter is in the air. The garden is all pulled up. Squash, peppers, garlic and tomatoes are roasting in the oven, filling the air with the smell of warmth and safety and love.
The loud music of summer - crickets, cicadas, and peepers - is now hushed by piles of leaves, flannel shirts, closed doors and windows. The soft sound of summer wind through the leaves now whistles, whips and winds through the bare branches.
Green grass turns brown and sparkles with icy frost in the morning light. The ground is littered with leaves, like confetti after a parade. The party’s over.
The bright lights of summer are turned low.
Shadows are long.
Days are short.
The fields have been picked clean, mowed, and harvested. Corn, soybeans, timothy, alfalfa … all brought in, wrapped up, stored away for winter. The Earth settles in for slumber. All scrubbed and buttoned down, like it just took a bath.
Round bales, all wrapped in white plastic, dot the landscape, looking like buttons on flannel pajamas.
Cows and horses are growing their bushy coats to stay cozy for the winter and we are wearing our heavy coats, too.
The low hum of a distant car. The crackle, pop, and hiss of the fire in the fireplace sends the dog running to hide in a closet. It’s okay, boy. Come and cuddle by the fire.
There, there. All is well.
Early to bed, early to rise, following the sun’s new routine. We are cozy, we cuddle and snuggle.
The whole wide world is going to sleep.
It is still, still, still.
I hear the neighbor’s cow.
Night, night. Sleep tight.
That’s a story for you now.