It’s quiet in my house. The kids are off with the dear husband at a neighborhood party I’ll join them at in a little while. Outside, a lawnmower buzzes. The light reveals autumnal clarity and a few leaves have turned colors and dropped, quietly and without fanfare, like fallen handkerchiefs. Occasionally, a few birds bleep. These few moments seem like a tiny still patch amidst a breezy day. I can barely stop to take in such calm, but I need to. Still water—velvety horse’s muzzle smooth—commands your attention and awe at its gentle beauty.

I spent many childhood summers—and some autumnal weekends too—at the edge of Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. I know flat water; I’ve spent hours and days observing it, waiting for it, appreciating it. I know how that softness can mute my own static. I gleaned a love of sunsets and snow, moss, bright leaves, starry nights there, too. Those other things—sunsets, snow, or moss—are not unique to that place in the same way, though; I can find them elsewhere. While I could ferret out lakes’ edges—and do—this lake, and this particular spot upon it are personal. If I need to reach stillness, I can travel to Upper Saranac Lake in my mind. This moment in the quiet house, for instance, brings me back.

Sometimes, stillness like this is akin to precipice, and what the stillness feels like is a pause, a place of balance, from which to leap to the next. Today is not like that. For all of the motion ahead—school starting, work continuing, a new nephew awaiting release from the hospital, his parents to shower with some aunt and big sister nurturance—ours is a family on its path right now, not about to leap anywhere especially new. Despite the fairly desperate need for a moment to sit, we are taking strides—if we can step back and see where we are and where we’re headed—nice, strong, long strides. Even Saskia, just 19 months, can run.

A few weeks ago, on my birthday, I couldn’t take any time (dear husband and darling second son were away, so this kind mama was caring for three charming kids). I craved a moment. I wanted to think about my year ahead, make some resolutions, reflect, and enjoy something of a pause between what’s been and what will be. For Rosh Hashanah, we have a family ritual looking forward to the new: we dip apples in honey for the sweetness of life, and we share what we wish for ourselves this coming year and what we wish for the world. That’s it; that’s our ritual. Each year, I find myself remembering what I cherished about the year that was. That piece—looking back—hasn’t been part of the ritual, and perhaps I should fold that in. It’s so important to be able to remember what was and dream about what will be at once, to hold it all in your heart. The timing of the holiday makes such sense: harvest season. Right now, I am staring at a windowsill lined with peaches—sixteen of them—from our tiny peach tree. The peaches are not fully ripe. The kids couldn’t wait to pick them, though. They professed to be afraid of bears snatching the fruit and they were impatient to say the peaches belong to us, the humans dwelling on this piece of land. We’ll see whether they ripen the last bit, whether they will become delicious peach crisp with some butter and sugar to help. For now, I am enjoying the sight of them strung like popcorn on thread for a Christmas tree decoration along the bay windows’ sills. I have this moment—post-birthday, pre-New Year, still velvet water, unripe peaches in view—this brief lull.

Here’s what comes clear on this golden late afternoon before the light drops down: everyone is well. The nearly fourteen year-old, bless him, he laughs with his friends easily and is excited about books and his family and sometimes wants to help out. There’s little more to wish for just now. The water’s rarely still these days—he’s got too much on his mind and too much churning inside his body—however, he’s not churning; he’s not in a storm. The eleven year-old can be appropriately moved to laughter or tears. He’s had a great summer, made new friends and cooked new dishes and gotten physically stronger. Nervous about what comes next, never comfortable with transitions, he’s voicing that so clearly and directly and he’s seeking support. There’s little more to wish for just now. The nearly seven year-old loves his friends, his parents, his siblings, his toys, his art supplies, his kickball games… he’s got a big, sweet smile (when he’s not unbelievably grumpy) and there’s little more to wish for now. The toddler, nineteen months, has words and sturdy feet and giggles; she sleeps well at night. There’s little more to wish for just now. The dear husband, at turns enjoying his life and overwhelmed by it, is doing—he’s engaged in his work and his children, soccer coaching, friendships—he’s not hanging back. Given the hectic pace and the constant demands, there’s little more to wish for right now (save for more sleep and a little more time with his dear wife). The tiny nephew—just shy of a week now—breathes and feeds and grows and by being, he causes his parents to fall more deeply in love with him by the hour. He will be home soon. There’s little more to wish for just now. And me, I am busy; I love each piece of my life so very much—the work, the family, the friends, the glorious spot on earth with its dazzling bounty—yes, I am exhausted, yes I need a little more time with the dear husband, and yes it’s dizzying, even daunting on any given day, but really, with about half an hour to unplug, I see there is little more to wish for just now.

The college’s chapel bell just started ringing, breaking into the quiet with reverberating insistence. All I can do is be grateful; all I can do is resolve to notice how grateful I am and to affirm what’s going well rather than beat myself up over what I cannot accomplish. All I can do is marvel. If I notice, if I marvel, I will be fine; I will feel glad and good. And with that, I am off to join the party.