Making the Most of Every Season of Your Life

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

 It may not look it just yet, but it's officially autumn - the season of pumpkin spice and apple cider donuts, falling leaves and moderating temperatures.  Who in the Northeast isn't excited to usher in this glorious season?

Like most, I love everything about fall....the relief from the summer heat and humidity, the changing foliage, filling my home with autumn décor in shades of rust and brown, pumpkin spice coffee and crisp, juicy apples just off the tree.  What is there not to love, except the endless leaf clean-up maybe.  A while back I wrote about how we tell time through the seasons of our lives, and the message of that post still rings true but this year as the change in seasons approached, I experienced a slightly different reaction.

As I've talked about more than once here on the blog, my perspective on life and many aspects of it has evolved as I've aged.  Things I once witnessed without much reaction now cause me to pause and ponder.  The changing seasons is an example of that.  While I still love and look forward to summer making its exit, this year it made me a bit melancholy.  Instead of nonchalantly bidding the heat and almost incessant humidity farewell, I had a moment of realization that another chapter of life had ended, a chapter I'd never get back.  It reminded me that in my late 60's, many more chapters are behind me than those ahead of me. Obviously I was not unaware of that fact already, but as I said goodbye to summer, it just struck a more sensitive nerve for me.  It made leaving summer a little bittersweet.

That nerve was struck again as I glanced out my window and noticed my fading and wilting hostas, drained of their summer vibrance and ready to hibernate for the winter.  The once vibrant green fern at the edge of the woods are now dark brown, the spring skunk cabbage now wilted, the tall jewelweed deflated and ready to wilt too.  The easily visible signs of life out my window are no longer as even the wildlife is preparing for the season ahead.  Their chapter is coming to end too.

I could be sad about these signs, about my reality as I look ahead with aging eyes and body, but then I find signs of hope and renewal.  On our last drive, these signs were easy to spot, a glimpse of optimism and reminders of what I know to be true.  As the leaves around it are dry and falling, even without turning to their scarlet hue, this lilac blooms, totally out of season, but as a reminder that life persists despite the odds.

Further down the road was a hedgerow of forsythia - in bloom, at the very end of September.  Another sign?  Another reassurance perhaps?

And then there was this old apple tree, likely unkept or tended, totally barren of leaves and seemingly barren of life. 

 But wait, what is that?   Apples!  This tree, which looked quite dead from the road, upon closer inspection was still bearing fruit. 

 And this was not the only tree we found like this.  We spotted a few more on our short drive, all leaf barren but bearing fruit.

I often see things in analogies and these oddities of nature were no exception.  They were signs of persistence and determination not unlike the strength and determination I've seen in the elders of my family when age and declining health have tried to dampen spirits and physical abilities.  As I witnessed in my great aunts who lived to be 100 and 101, their seasons changed, their outward appearance not as youthful or pristine, but their spirit remained as they continued to embrace whatever life was within their grasp, just like that apple tree.  Our seasons may change, our joints may creak, our energy may not be what it used to be, but at the end of the day, we still have breathe and with that comes the ability to find joy and make the most of whatever seasons we have left.  We can still make a difference, even if it's just to give others hope and inspiration. We can still embrace opportunities to enjoy what brings us joy, and we can share that joy enthusiastically with others.

And like this pear tree, the autumn of our lives might be precisely when we're at our peak.  We've lived our 'seasons' and now is the time when we get to shine, sharing our acquired wisdom, our talents and our gifts.  Here's hoping this season brings you joy, beautiful views, and reminders of your worth no matter what season of life you're in.  Wishing you many days of everything that makes you smile.  To read my earlier post, Telling Time Through the Seasons of your Life:  This post explores how we navigate from one season of our life to the next...sometimes rushing to the next big phase of life.  You can all relate.

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