Today I uprooted the last of the summer flowers in my balcony garden. The petunias and a few of the hanging pots were still valiantly blooming, urging me to honor their last efforts. But it was time for mums, pumpkins, wheat sheaves and scarecrows…my usual Fall decorations.
Summer is not my favorite season. The heat and humidity tire me. But I love the flowers, the trees heavy with green, the sound of the creek running behind my apartment, waking to birdsong and taking cuttings of my best blooms to place in vases everywhere. Autumn energizes me. The colors. The aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg and my freshly dried herbs encourage me to start cooking again. Anything with pumpkin. Home made soup, and later on, stews. Apple pies and muffins.
I love to walk on the trail or in the park, watching the squirrels as they scamper madly, stashing acorns and other goodies for winter. The hummingbirds are gone, but Juncos have arrived and join the year round residents at my feeders…so many more of them now that food is getting scarce. I view with amazement as every day the various leaves turn their designated color and goldenrod replaces the butterfly bush. I put the first log in the fireplace and put out my winter scented candles.
But this year the changing season has brought sadness… melancholy really. For the first time I am keenly aware of my role in Mother Nature’s play. Growing older. Losing the bloom of youth and vigor. Seeking the sanctuary of a warm home to ease aching joints and rest in comfort. Maybe even a nice nap. Looking forward to flannel sheets, my down comforter and a cozy robe.
I miss the friends that will not join me for hot tea or cocoa this year. Still so fresh in my mind, so tucked away in my heart. They are somewhere else. I hope it is as lovely as Autumn is here.
And what of Winter? The dark, dreary days. Damp and cold. The feeling of isolation and loneliness. The eerie beauty of a new snowfall. The sounds of children laughing as they pelt one another with snowballs, sled or create their own version of Frosty. The loveliness of sunset as it lights up icicles hanging from my balcony rafters.
I wait for Spring. Even the slightest clue that it is on it’s way. The crocuses pushing to the surface. Forsythias yellow brightening otherwise brown gardens. Every day a bit longer, a bit milder. The sky returns to it’s proper blue, the clouds once again fluffy white. The hummingbirds return to the feeder.
I think about the seasons and wonder – What is my season? Each one is special, sharing it’s own unique delights and shortcomings. Enriching me, instructing me, challenging me. I suppose I am in the Fall of my life. Still colorful. But with darker shades that fade and loose their vibrancy. Shorter lasting. Like a falling leaf slowly drifting to the ground, returning to Mother Nature. Coming to it’s proper end.
As I sat in synagogue this Yom Kippur, listening to the magnificent sounds of Kol Nidre, feeling the Gate closing and blessed to be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year – given another opportunity to do right, to do better – I understood that life, Mother Nature, and even God, can not guarantee me time. What ever seasons are left for me, I pray that I make the most of them and that I enter the Autumn of 5778 with love, courage, and gratitude.
Carole Leskin is a retired Director of Global Human Resources. Embarking on a second career as a writer and photographer concentrating on her personal accounts of aging, her essays and poetry, frequently accompanied by her photos, are published in Jewish Sacred Aging, Jewish Women of Words, Starts At 60, Navigating Aging ( a Kaiser Health publication), Women’s Older Wisdom, Time Goes By and Next Avenue. Her poems, “Father Time” and “Carole’s Debate” were selected for inclusion in the 2019 anthologies of poetry, New Jersey Bards. Her photos have been featured in Mart R Porter Nature Forum.