Hearing my husband split wood, feeling the reverberation in my teeth and almost seeing the tingle in the air, I can feel the chill in the mornings more clearly and see the shortening of the days. I look at our big blonde stove, snug in the corner of the big room, and think of how it will be steaming and pumping out heat in less than the length of the summer.

How can I not think of the lesson of the ant and the grasshopper? The ant was busy all summer, working away, packing its pantry and filling the reserves. The grasshopper, on the other hand, had a grand old time. Not a fun moment went by without the grasshopper in the middle of it. And then, winter came. The grasshopper found itself in the middle of the snow, nothing to eat and nowhere to live, watching as the ant was toasting its tootsies by a cozy fire with a cup o’ joe in its hand.

We have been working the summer away, doing our best to be ants. But it’s hard to enjoy the moment when you’re an ant all the time. So there have been the grasshopper times, when we have said “never mind” and have just let our hair down. But it’s hard not to feel guilt when you’re spending quality ant time doing grasshopper stuff.

There’s always so much to do. Look around the house, and there’s a project calling our names. Cleaning and improving and upkeeping, oh my. Plug on through the daily grind, and there are demands on our evenings. Brainstorming sessions and moving plans and fishing trips, oh my.

We are a culture of run-run-run. We act like ants, busy all the time, but we don’t always get the pantry stocked or the real work done. We want the best of both worlds: the security of the ant (without the work) and the carefree life of the grasshopper (without the consequences). I catch myself, on evenings like this – where I’m home skipping out on a meeting I was asked to participate in, after a week of this-or-that 24/7 – wondering just what it’s all for. I catch myself, at times like this, longing for an hour in silence.

Neither the ant nor the grasshopper spent any time at Adoration, or in silent reflection, or in prayer. Hey, it’s just a story that kids tell, right? But it speaks to me today, as the evening pulls in quickly (too soon!) and the crops start their slow decay and the sheep get ready for breeding and the world around me braces for fall. The only way I can deal with this change – pleasant and rewarding though it is, most of the time – is to let God do the driving and let myself let him. The only way I can enjoy the view is if I look out the window, instead of worry my way through the windshield. Maybe the lesson from the ant is to be prepared. And maybe the lesson from the grasshopper is to enjoy the preparations.

As my husband stacks the newly-split wood into taller-than-me piles, sweat streaming down his arms, I can see the ant in his eyes. He’s worried about wood. We need the wood. We have to stay warm. Turning back to the house, savoring the setting sun on my back, I can also see the grasshopper in him. He’s busy splitting wood on a Thursday evening, because we’re going out this weekend! I can’t help but say “thanks God” as I walk back to the house, towing a cranky toddler (who is very locust-like at that point) and getting ready for dinner.