As the leaves turn from green to yellow to red, the fruits ripen, and the chipmunks are busy gathering their winter supplies, my heart saddens, knowing the joyous days of summer’s heat are being cut short. The blue jays, with their clever calls mimicking the sound of a hovering hawk, fight over the acorns with the squirrels. The yellow jackets appear more intensely, hungry for every fallen apple, and ready to bite every intruder. The luscious season of tomatoes ripening, juicy goodness only available in the late summer, is almost over. The bags and bags of them in the entry way, waiting for me to do something.
The first nip of frost blackens my squash and pumpkins leaves, and they ripen quickly, forced into readiness by their natural enzymes. “Hurry up, everyone!” the frost seems to say, “Your time is almost done”. The zucchini plants make one final attempt to produce more fruit, and the yellow squash does the same, sending out new blossoms, calling to the bees. The bees are also in a hurry, to bring more nectar back to the hive for their winter syrup of life.
The wild animals grow heavier coats. My chickens grow in their heavy under feathers, getting ready for the cold. The air in the evenings has a crispness to it, a chill, and the fire warms our hands and feet. The leaves crunch underfoot. The flowers are faded, turning to stalks. The seeds blow on the wind, their ingenious parachutes and umbrellas of fuzz setting them adrift in the sky. Like the pioneers, they set off, not knowing where they will land, but they will try to make a life wherever that is.
The geese and ducks fly overhead. Going south, who can blame them? The Monarch butterflies too, migrating back to their warmer climate for survival. Their instinct pulls them into the migration patterns their ancestors followed for generations, and now they follow as well, creating an amazing pattern of life.
Every fall, I add another number to my chronological age. The numbers don’t really bother me like I thought they would, I still feel the same inside. An old neighbor of mine once told told me that the years go by faster the older you get. This scares me, because they go by so quickly already.
The winter comes every year, and every year it catches me off guard. I’m not ready. Not ready for the cold or the wind, or the snow or the ice. I wish for the warm nights of summer, fireflies dancing in the grass, and planting. Planting everything, working the garden to see what will grow, what will fail, and what will turn into something extraordinary from a seed, some dirt, and some water; the promise of what is yet to come. The miracle of life and death, and rebirth; of hibernation and migration, the circle of life.