2 November 2015
Autumn’s always been my favorite time of year. The changed weather and vibrant colors invigorate me. My heart delights in hills of trees bedecked in russet and amber finery. The air holds a tang, and I reenact favorite childhood memories with whichever of my kids will indulge me. Trips to pumpkin patches, crisp apples dipped in sweet, sticky caramel, Halloween costumes and gentle scares. We rake leaves into piles and delight in dispersing the work with a jump.
The garden prepares for a winter rest. I dead-head flowers and prune the roses. Mulch blankets perennials. Chrysanthemum blooms provide pops of color in an increasing mono-chromatic landscape.
My little M-man recites “Five Little Pumpkins” as we march outside. The grass engulfs our ankles. I’ve not cut the lawn for a while. Tending to the mess inside the house has taken priority. We’ve been taking on water since June, and the damage leaves me disheartened. In need of a break and a bit of time with my son, we study leaves made colorful from a loss of chlorophyll. Squirrels chatter at our intrusion, shaking their tails from their lofty vantage.
My son scampers off to play with the dog. I lay my tools and a basket close at hand and begin. My spade cuts into the soil. I strain as I fight through Pennsylvania clay and ages-old tree roots until the hole I’m digging is as deep as the shovel blade. Leaves glitter as they fall to blanket the ground around me. Into the hole I deposit a bulb which I cover with a layer of recycled dirt, patting it level like a comforting blanket. My son throws sticks for the dog as I repeat the back-straining exercise thirty-nine more times, devoting the same care to each infant plant.
As the sun begins to paint the sky with brushstrokes reminiscent of the harvest, I consider the honesty of the work. Being in nature clarifies my thoughts and aligns my focus. My mind’s been blurry of late.
In addition to the house troubles, we recently shared in a loss. I attended a viewing at a funeral home for a kind older man. He lived a life full of love and family. His kindness touched my heart, and I mourned along with his kin. In his coffin, his aspect transformed, and I found it difficult to recognizing him. Still, around the ornate box, urns filled with fragrant floral arrangements of every imaginable color perfumed the area. Their simple beauty distracted me. I touched a petal, marveling at its delicacy.
This funeral punctuated a full life well-spent. Photograph collages bloomed, presenting a glimpse at highpoints of his life. Death released my elderly friend from a life locked in pain. Although he smiled through it, hoping to remain the strong patriarch for his family, his cancer-ridden insides tore at his mental state. His life remains a testimony of devotion to his family.
There is dignity in transition, a beauty in the appreciation for the departed and a grace in mourning. My beliefs land departed souls in a better place where there is no suffering. It is easier to accept such a transition when the deceased lived a full life. One taken too soon leaves an ache of what could have been.
I tip my head heaven-ward and close my eyes. A gentle breeze caresses my cheeks and rustles my hair like a comforting mother. It dries tears. I miss many in heaven, and I believe we will all meet again in the hereafter.
Done with laboring in the garden, I straighten, hearing my back creak like the chilly wind rushing through my mulberry. The work is worthwhile, because I know the outcome. For a garden to host a cheerful display of daffodils in the spring, the plants overwinter in cold ground. Slender green sprouts frame stalks crowned with blooms bright as gathered, golden sunshine. Thus, for a few hours, I ignore my sodden basement and the devastating effects of the never-ending flooding to enhance my front yard. I set aside sorrow and appreciate the present.
I fill my lungs with the distinctive, crisp air. Autumn proves the beauty of transition, yet I plant with hopes of a flower-filled spring.
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