At the first sight of the maple tree’s yellowing leaves in September, I wanted to yell out a guttural “No!” I know, it’s a bit dramatic, but I clung onto summer as long as I possibly could.
In previous years you would find me looking forward to fall and all the things that make autumn wonderful. But since I began gardening, I’ve noticed a shift. My first season I was so exhausted I couldn’t wait until my winter break. After the first season, however, I began to really notice winter… and all the things I didn’t like about it: the endless brown yard, the otherwise beautiful, lush trees that are just sticks and don’t get me started on shorter days. I do enjoy snow, but we don’t get enough of it to justify a longing for winter.
Even though spring, summer, and the early fall are so much work — gardening, weeding, digging, more weeding, freezing, and canning — I’ve learned to embrace the work and cherish the beauty. One of my favorite memories this year was shelling black-eyed peas on the deck, enjoying a conversation with my husband and admiring my kids splash in the pool. I didn’t want those days to end.
But as the crisp air made the cusp of autumn hard to ignore, I had to remind myself that the Creator orchestrated seasons, and they are good.
When the earth is a sea of brown and the trees look dead I have to remind myself of the many purposes of winter. First, creation gets to rest. That includes us. After three seasons of work — preparing the ground, planting, maintaining, harvesting, and storing — it’s time to heed the signal of shortened days. And while trees, bushes and other perennials look dead to us, they are actually working on expanding their roots, preparing themselves for the next year of growth.
Winter is a time of rest and preparation.
Similarly, our lives invariably go through seasons. Career changes, new children, moves, and the death of loved ones usher us into new phases of life. And during those changes of season, whether we embrace the new changes or hold on to the old with dear life, it’s helpful for us to consider the wisdom in creation.
I know it may seem in Arkansas that we go from winter to summer overnight and vice versa, but we do enjoy the beautiful transitional times of spring and fall. The cooler, less humid autumn air eventually wins me over, and I no longer dread the change of seasons but instead embrace them for the gift that they are.
Sometimes, when our lives go through these seasonal changes, we want to skip the transition. We either hang on with all of our might to what cannot be clung to or we plunge headlong into the next new thing.
May we slow down. May we take time to slowly let go of what is passing and, in some instances, to allow ourselves to fully grieve the change. May we allow the shift in season to eventually woo us into accepting the next one. Even if it’s winter and we feel it will never end – it will. The seasons remind us of that. There’s hope. There’s growth right around the corner just waiting for the temperatures to begin rising. Because they always do. Have you ever realized how dependable the seasons are? In my mind, they point to the faithfulness of our Creator.
So now that it’s November I’m starting to finally embrace autumn and preparing for winter. I’m enjoying the pumpkin spice lattes, roasting s’mores, snuggling with the kids by the fire, Thanksgiving decorations and, of course, football.
And in the dead of winter, when sadness at the brown and lack of nature’s life threatens to smother me like a blanket, I’ll grab a cup of coffee, sit by the fire and read my gardening books, preparing for the next beautiful change of season.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to harvest…for He makes all things beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 11).