The magic of summer.

I have a friend named Jordan.

Jordan is 8 years old with a wisp of blonde hair spiked like a Kewpie doll and pale skin with a smattering of caramel-colored freckles across the bridge of his nose. He has limbs like cooked spaghetti—thin and jumbled from the nonstop energy that comes simply from being his age. He is a kid on the go! A kid with plans! (Watch out world!)

On one particular Sunday last winter, the stars aligned and my birthday coincided with getting to stand in front of a room full of singing kids while a piano played a rendition of a happy birthday song and I wore some silly birthday hats—several of them—crowded jauntily on my head, just how the kids wanted.

I was sung to with gusto, and all the kids were adorable, sweet and loud, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

As I walked from the front of the room to the back, I could see a whirlwind of limbs and bow tie and candy-colored pants in my periphery.

It was my friend Jordan—all dapper in his Sunday best—running straight towards me. He threw his arms around my waist and locked his eyes straight onto mine while I hugged him back and he wished me a singular, lovely happy birthday.

This was no half-hearted gesture. It was full of everything he had in that moment, and it was earnest and pure.

Did I mention that Jordan has Down Syndrome? That most of the things he does are full of heart and earnest and pure?

And I’m learning that this may be the case of those with special needs. That more than having special needs, they have special abilities to enrich our lives and community in ways that would be lacking without them. Even if that special ability is to just make me feel like a million bucks. (Thanks, Jordan!)

As this season comes into its own and the temperature drops and Corner Canyon starts to don her yellow, orange and red coat, enjoy it and all it entails—pumpkins, haunts, hunts, harvests, pie, family, a few great meals… And know that if you need a head start on any of it, you can find it all here, in these pages.