It’s a beautiful time of year here in Minnesota. Sometimes, in the dead of winter, I ask myself why I’ve chosen to live in a place where it gets so cold and feels overwhelmingly dark for weeks and months on end. But when spring and summer, and especially fall come around again, I remember.
As I was running an errand a few days ago, driving a nearby road bordered by a stretch of trees and open space, the late afternoon sun provided a deep golden backdrop for the red, orange and yellow canopies atop the trees. No matter how often I witness this particular transition of nature, it never fails to strike me with a sense of awe. Momentarily, I felt bad about rejoicing in something that essentially equates to the beginning of an end.
Almost as quickly, I realized that this season is not about endings at all. There’s no reason to feel sad about the dimming of this period of life. It’s simply part of a recurring cycle. Fall plays its part in a bigger picture. Nature quiets this time of year, tucks in for a few months, before reinventing itself and bursting back to life the next spring.
I walked a lot this past summer. In the very early part of the day, bird songs created a morning symphony and the sunrises were spectacular. Walking has been a regular part of my days for years, but this summer was different, and I felt myself coming back to life each morning in many ways. I felt a sense of peace drifting over me that I’d been missing for far too long. The lingering sadness that seemed to permeate my heart for the past few years was finally starting to dissipate.
The days have grown shorter over the past several weeks, and I miss those brilliant summer morning walks. But those days will come around again. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to appreciate what’s in front of me right now.
This week, I’ve frequently found myself feeling grateful for the remote car starter. Business casual has gone out the window at the office. It’s jeans, heavy sweaters, and as many layers as one can comfortably manage. I’ve made a new friend at work. After 4:30, we meet in front of the large break room windows pressing buttons on our key fobs until we see headlights illuminate and the tell-tale sign of exhaust plumes floating from their pipes.
Winter is in full force here in Minnesota. We’re hunkering down inside our homes, in front of our fireplaces, and under mountains of blankets when we go to bed at night.
Well, I am anyway.
And let me just say, if you’re contemplating building a new deck like we did last summer, and if you’re considering one of those maintenance-free options, think long and hard. Nobody warned us that this kind of decking would become mildly treacherous when it rains or snows. Or when it rains and then snows. Or when it has snowed several times and the temperature remains steadily low enough to maintain all that snow on the ground, and then it rains and freezes.
Our split-level house doesn’t have a lower-level walk-out. (I think I just won the prize for most hyphenated words in one sentence!) The deck and its flight of stairs are the dog’s typical means of getting to the fenced back yard. When it rained last Monday night and then quickly dropped to single-digit temps for the week, our world became a glazed, icy wonderland. And our deck became impassable. All week-long, we’ve been bundling up and walking poor Lucy out the front door and around through the back gate to do her business.
Oh, well. As one of my favorite former coworkers used to frequently remind us in the face of complaints, “First world problems.”
Anyway, it looks like we’re having a bit of a heat wave this week. I might be able to shed a layer!
Also, there’s a lovely Mexican vacation in my near future (first time EVER!) and that makes me very. VERY. HAPPY.