I am fortunate to live in a place where there are seasons. I would say four, but that may not always be accurate here. Changes of seasons come with memories and feelings and expectations.
The coming of winter would be worse without the expectation of holiday celebrations. The shift from winter to spring is always welcome, especially after a long hard winter. Increased daylight and signs of renewed life bring excitement and hope. Where I live, the transition from spring to summer can vary – even from day to day. Spring often seems too short when we get hot days rather early. But with summer comes vacations, recreational activities, annual celebrations and reunions. So with this transition comes anticipation of enjoyment. Even with some dread of the end of a fun filled summer, the first signs of autumn are often welcome. Cool nights bring relief from the heat.
If I could choose the perfect weather it would be the “sweater weather” of autumn. I don’t enjoy sweating or freezing. I sleep much better on cool nights. We have occasional rainstorms which seem refreshing. Sometimes we have unusually warm days. Walks are much more enjoyable when not so hot. And there is the beauty of the leaves turning colors and painting the landscape. I find the colors of autumn very pleasant and comforting.
Autumn somehow seems an appropriate time to rest or not be so busy. For someone who was raised in a family of “do-ers” instilled with guilt feelings whenever not doing anything, that feeling has been most often suspended during lazy autumn days. Of course, there are those lazy summer vacation days of laying on the beach or sitting around a campfire. But then there is always a feeling of temporariness – a brief calm before returning to the rat race.
Autumn comes with mixed feelings. There is an overwhelming sense of impending change. Some of that may be sadness with the end of summer fun and the seeming death of nature. I have a desire to suspend time in autumn, to hang on to life as it is much as the dying leaves linger on the trees. I don’t want fall to end and with it bring the death that is winter.
I associate Autumn quiet times with grief or loss. The change of season brings memories back to my mind. Many significant people in my life left this earth life during Autumn. At those times, everyday activities and projects seem unimportant and set aside for a time. What is left is time for memories and contemplation, accompanied by cool breezes wafting colorful leaves from trees to the ground. Somehow it seems appropriate to just sit and watch nature slowly changing. There is also a feeling of time standing still – and not wanting to move on – whether that be facing the coming snow storms, or facing life altered forever because of who or what will no longer be there with us.
My Grandmother died in October. One of my fondest memories of her was of an earlier October when I stayed with my grandparents while my parents went somewhere. It was General Conference weekend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which always seems a little lazy sitting on the couch watching Church for hours. I remember watching Conference with Grandma while she knitted. Then we strolled around their huge yard enjoying the colorful leaves and pretty flower gardens. The family gathered and sat in that yard after her funeral.
My Grandpa died the first Saturday in November 1999. We had one of those rare, long, mild, and beautiful autumns. In September the leaves started turning beautiful colors and somehow we avoided the big winds which usually blew them all off the trees. We made it into November with plenty of red and gold leaves still clinging to branches, though many more blanketed the ground.
I remember that day started as an unusual Saturday void of plans. The soccer season was over and I faced a rare Saturday with nowhere to go. Being the do-er, I got out my scrapbooking supplies. Then I got the phone call, left everything and drove to the hospital.
The rest of the day was slow-motion. After we all left the hospital, we ended up back at Grandpa’s house. My Dad, the do-er, eventually resumed working in Grandpa’s yard, finishing up mowing and raking. I remember mostly sitting on the patio with my Uncle. We just sat quietly for some time, then started mindlessly shelling walnuts that happened to be sitting there. Memories of that yard and house drifted through my mind. It was really strange. I felt no guilt in just sitting and not doing.
My Mom died the day before Thanksgiving in the year 2000. It didn’t snow that year until afterwards, so it still seemed to be Autumn. The shock of her sudden passing left me functioning in slow motion for some time. There was plenty to do with planning the funeral, but still many hours of sitting and remembering.
A New Autumn
So as I reflect on memories of autumns past and enjoy the beauty today, I wonder what lies ahead. This autumn comes with some excited anticipation of new life – a rare birth in our family this time of year. Maybe this will change the colors of the season for me – to associate the season with new life as well as death?
Autumn of My Life
As I have lived through many autumns, I have gained more of a sense that I am in the autumn of my own life. Behind me are many springs and summers – times of anticipation, excitement and enjoyment leaving good memories. Ahead I feel the approaching winter with some apprehension. Not that I dread death so much as the gradual diminishing of living, not just for me but for others I love. I hope I can continue to enjoy the beauty, the pleasant times, and the people in my life as long as my season lingers.
Autumn will inevitably come to an end and bring with it winter. But I have learned through the cycles of the seasons that spring will come again. So all those that I have lost in the autumns of my life will live again. That is something wonderful to anticipate.