We spend the first twenty or thirty years of our lives in the spring. Watching an infant grow into a child is like seeing the first bright green tips emerge in the dark loam of a garden – what will they become? Like sunflowers reaching higher as they follow the sun, children bloom into teenagers. Trouble is out there, though. A hailstorm can beat the young leaves and stems, too little water or love can stunt their growth. An early freeze can set you back so far you’re not sure you’ll ever recover. Late spring as young adults and parents is full of sudden outbursts and stormy days. Mud can bog you down, but a fresh rain can wash away your problems. All the while life around you is vigorous and growing, ever changing.
We’re mature adults as we move into the summer of our lives. Long warm days in the sun, long cool nights under the stars; we’re at our most productive. We’ve grown into what we’re supposed to be, for better or worse. For many, our
children are just beginning to bloom into adulthood themselves – each opening petal revealing something new and special about them. By late summer we’re beginning to get a little “leggy” perhaps, spreading out under the heavy burden of the fruits of our labors. Everything we’ve worked for, what we’ve taught our children, now begins to bear fruit.
Amid the vibrant fragrances and colors of autumn you begin to harvest your life’s bounty, perhaps finding you should have tended your crops more closely to produce the best quality. An Indian summer can soothe you into false complacency, but it’s time to gather what you need for the coming winter. Enjoy the last days of freedom in the crisp, clear air. Kick your way through deep piles of past memories. Revel in the surprise of a late-arriving bloom. Peer into your mental pantry and see all the wondrous history stored there. Get used to ragged leaves, peeling bark, exposed roots – they’re the result of a lifetime of wear and tear.
Winter can come slowly or suddenly. A light snow followed by a thaw, or a heavy dump that can be too much to dig out of. Branches break under the stress. Sometimes trees fall altogether. Grasses are pale and brittle; everything is dull and muted, but you mustn’t dwell on the bright colors and blooms of the past. Remember them, but don’t obsess over them. Even though the earth is dark and still, beauty exists. The sun shining down on a pristine field of sparkling snow. The perfect blue of sky against the wide, bare branches of a giant oak.
And the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. Feeding off the past. Your memories. Mulch.