When Sage was turning one (some two decades ago), we wrapped him up in Pete’s leather jacket, propped him on the couch, and took a photo of him.
Each year on his birthday we’d repeat this tradition with the same coat, building a collection of 18 photos of him growing from baby into man–slowly, slowly, until the jacket finally fit.
It’s a strange tradition (to be sure) but it’s our strange tradition. And I’m so glad.
We might not have baby books or beautifully organized photo albums, but we have these.
When Lupine was born some four years after her brother, we knew which jacket she’d wear for the same tradition: a fringed buckskin coat that had belonged to my grandma. Her mother’s mother’s mother’s jacket. Yes, that felt right.
Though my Grandma Lee died when I was a young adult (long before Sage and Lupine were born), my kids know her through the stories, recipes, and knitting she left behind. And through one fabulous, handmade leather jacket.
And that’s how it happens that each fall (jackets–or jacket in hand) we head outside to take our photos.
This year’s birthday/jacket photos mark Lupine’s 17th year joyfully taking these whimsical photos with me, one autumn after another.
And it’s our second-to-last time.
Here we are, inevitably approaching the end of this journey. And even though I knew it was coming, it’s still taking me by surprise.
It’s bittersweet this mothering business, and I’m holding on tight to my heart.
Because it’s quite unexpected somehow, that this one turns 17 today. (“Seventeen!” said in the voice of the Humbug from the Phantom Tollbooth). But I am here for it, this watching her grow. And what a joy and an honor it is to be her mom!
Lupine is my foraging buddy, my kitchen companion, my sewing-making-baking-photography-road tripping coconspirator. I adore spending time with her, with her big heart and her kindness and her gift for seeing beauty absolutely everywhere.
She inspires me daily, and it’s nothing short of a gift to get to walk this path by her side.
The very next morning after we took these photos, the last of the fall leaves were swept away in a wind, so we caught it just in time.
It’s a metaphor, I think:
Don’t wait. Because autumn and childhood won’t last.
Savor all you can.
Happy birthday, Lupine Bluebird. I’m so damn grateful you were born.
P.S. Just for fun, here are a few treasured jacket pictures of Lupine from years past… (I mean that gnome hat! Seriously.) You can also search “jacket pictures” in the search bar to see loads more, if you’re so inclined.