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Front Porch: Age starts creeping up, and time begins to fly

Thu., Dec. 13, 2012, midnight

Oh, lordy, it’s nearly halfway into December already. It feels like I’ve barely digested my Thanksgiving dinner. I know there’s still Halloween candy in one of the cupboards. I have pine needles in the yard needing to be raked. We’re just getting around to taking down the screen door and replacing it with the winter storm door. And hauling out the snow shovel.

Aaarrgghh! Winter is moving in too fast.

And while I concede I move slower than I used to, surely it’s the world that has speeded up. I used to have brown hair, an erect posture, a spring in my step and the ability to multitask with the best of ’em – balancing children, household, work, marriage, needs of extended family members and all of it. Now my hair is mostly gray and my shoulders somewhat rounded. I often have a limp (darn meniscus cartilage), am fortunate to get half the things done in a day that I’d planned to do and am bedeviled by my perpetually disappearing reading glasses.

How did this all happen? As my husband cheerfully points out, it’s because I didn’t die young, that’s how. Welcome to the golden years.

It’s not that I didn’t expect that in my 60s I’d be what I was when I was in my 30s, mentally or physically, but I have such a sense that someone pressed the fast-forward button on my life. I notice it particularly with family time. When we go to see our youngest son in Seattle for a day or two, it seems as if we’ve barely arrived before we’re headed over Snoqualmie Pass on our way back to Spokane again. I can tick off all the things we did while we were with him – and it can be a prodigious list – but then, poof, it’s done and we’re out of there.

This has been especially true with the visit this past month of our oldest son, the one who lives in Europe. I wrote earlier about how he and I plotted to keep his visit a surprise for his father and how we actually managed to pull that off – and how unnatural it felt to keep such a secret from my husband. I’m not built for intrigue.

Carl was here for a month, and it was a great month, filled with wonderful conversation, lots of food, visiting with friends and so much catching up. Carl helped his father cut down two big (and dead) ponderosa pines in our yard, and they re-bonded over chain saw and splitting maul matters, the way men do. It was lovely to see. And though Carl is in his upper 30s, he allowed me to fuss over him to my heart’s content, something he would have been less likely to be comfortable with when he was younger.

But it seems like he no sooner unpacked than he was packing up and boarding a plane again. This was just an interlude, a way too short one, but he lives elsewhere, and there was a life for him to get back to there. I understand that, but how did the time go by so quickly? The time fairy is surely making mischief.

So here we are, just the two of us in a house that again seems way too quiet. No prosciutto or Greek yogurt or fresh blueberries to buy in anticipation of our oldest’s arrival. No sounds of the piano coming up from downstairs. No salsa and chips to restock twice weekly. I am happy at the visit we enjoyed and sad that it’s over.

As we return to life as usual and work at trying to catch up with the winter season now upon us, we do so without having properly adjusted to the fall season that managed to complete itself without my notice. And we are again paying attention to those aging changes, the ones kind of put on hold while our son was here. And I suspect that in the blink of an eye, I’ll be working the soil and planting geraniums again, probably stepping over the snow shovel and tire chains as I make ready. I guess that’s life.

But please, please, please – can’t it slow down just a little? I really do need a little time to catch up.

Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@ Previous columns are available at columnists/.

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