As I sit here writing this, the morning sky outside is crystal blue. After a weekend of rain and wind (and a few snow flurries), the trees are almost bare now. A few die-hards are hanging on and the contrast is startling. The trees look like skeletons of their former selves. This is the time of the year that is hard for many gardeners as they prepare to get their gardens ready for the long winter sleep to come. Just like the trees outside of my window, the garden is a skeleton of its former self. The withered, brown stalks, the yellowed leaves, the few veggies that did not make it in before the first, hard freeze. We pull things out, turn things over, rake things smooth. We make it ready for the next stop on its journey.
As we go through the seasons of our lives, we experience many endings and beginnings, especially as we arrive at the crossroads of adulthood and wisdom years. We wake up one day and it feels as if our lives are like those trees, just a skeleton of the life we once had. Maybe those things that represented the colorful leaves on our trees, like family and friends, have fallen away for one reason or another and we stand there waiting for directions to the next leg of the journey. This is when it helps to take some time out and rake in the memories, those people and events that nourished our lives up to this point, and turn them over into the fertile soil of our hearts. That is the place where new lives take root.
Right now, even though I no longer garden on a big scale, I still have gardening chores to do. I take down all of the porch planters and empty them, make sure I've harvested all of the herbs for drying indoors, pull down the summer decorations and replace them with colorful gourds, mini pumpkins, garlands of autumn leaves and plastic geese taking wing. Before long even these will be replaced with snowmen and Santas, pine wreaths and garlands. Nothing stays the same. The seasons come whether we want them to or not. When one ends, another begins, and brings with it new sights, sounds and smells, even as we incorporate those from the past that make moving forward a little less scary.
Endings don't have to be sad. Without them we would never have the gift of new beginnings, new experiences, new journeys to make. How dull life would be if it were one season forever.
And so it is.