Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
~ Green Day, Wake Me Up When September Ends
There are certain times of year that serve as somber reminders of loss. I relate well to Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics. The most significant people in my life have left me in autumn. I’d sooner sleep through a difficult season than awaken to its lessons, but nature is too profound and thoughtful of a teacher to be ignored.
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In autumn, I look forward to stowing away my shorts and tees and unpacking long pants and cozy sweaters. The crisp, fresh air invites me to investigate the woods as leaves and dried sticks crackle underfoot. I love to catch glimpses of animals readying themselves for the cold. There are Native American tribes who believe we are connected to nine spirit animals that guide us in times of need. Deer, in particular, carry meaning for me. I love a deer’s grace, gentleness, and soulful eyes. It is said that deer symbolize the ability to change direction quickly, trust one’s instincts, and handle life’s challenges with dignity and determination. After a loss, life presents me with a new path. There is no compass to guide me; instead, I trust my instincts as I will my feet to move and, with determination, faithfully step forward.
Winter brings a drop in temperature that numbs my fingers and toes and causes me to shiver with discomfort. Learning to live with loss is certainly painful and uncomfortable. I retreat to the warmth inside. Like a caterpillar encasing itself in a cocoon waiting for its metamorphosis, I swaddle myself in a blanket as I find comfort in front of the fire. My eyes become entranced by dancing flames, and I think of nothing. Instead, I choose to be mindlessly entertained by the rhythmic movement of the fiery tango. The short days and long nights slowly roll into one another. My grieving body receives the time it craves to rest and heal.
A delicate, green shoot emerges from the still hard ground. It’s a crocus – a sign of spring in the North. Soon playful purple flowers burst open. Being a rare color in nature, purple is viewed as sacred. It can uplift spirits and calm the mind and body. I observe a robin diligently constructing a nest on the arm of the gutter alongside my garage. Back and forth, back and forth, it flies. Before long, the ducks arrive. They will be laying eggs and, in a month, my yard will be littered with obedient ducklings trailing behind their mother. My thoughts of baby ducklings quickly fade as I hear my dog whine. I watch her bound outside as a squirrel shimmies up the fence mocking her. My yard is alive, and I am filled with renewed hope.
I relax in my favorite outdoor chair. My face is tilted to the sun, and I allow its warm rays to gently infuse me with light. As I sit silently in my backyard cathedral, nature’s vibrant soundtrack consumes me. I hear chipmunks chatter as a chorus of birds sing, and a woodpecker’s percussion joins in with a rat-tat-tat. An unbridled joy rises in me. I want to capture this fleeting feeling of bliss and place it in a jar like a firefly in July. Instead, I surrender it, and a feeling of contentment settles in. Like the seasons, I have come full circle.
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