Autumn in my little corner of the kingdom is a Janus-like season. Remember Janus? The Roman God of gates and doorways doorways--one face toward each direction.
Autumn is like that for me--looking forward, looking back.
One day, it's summer, and you'd swear August's picture is still on the wall calendar. The next morning, the leaves whip around wildly, skies are overcast (if not weeping buckets), and you wonder which closet you buried your rainproof jacket and umbrella in.
While the weather is doing its two-faced thing, I veer back and forth between two ways of thinking about life.
Ahead of us is a season many people dread--Winter, with its more-than-generous servings of snow and ice, wind chills, and dangerous roads/driveways/sidewalks. In its nature, Winter is probably no more dangerous than other seasons, if we take precautions for our safety. But it's well to be prepared.
Behind us is summer (my least favorite season, as I believe I've said before)--a season many folks would love to see hang around a minimum of 200 days per year; the other 165 could be a little cooler, maybe a little rainy, but definitely not below 50 degrees. I prefer variety in my seasons.
But that's just weather. What about what's ahead of us in our lives? What changes will there be in my family? In my health? My town? My church? My friends?
My grandchildren are young enough to be changing jobs, moving to bigger houses, looking for the best schools for their children. My children are more settled, but still open to new opportunities. My health is currently stable, so I keep on with my exercise programs to maintain the status quo. My town--well, they call it progress, I call it chaos: closed streets, tree removal. . . . My church constantly searches for ways, and people, to serve. My friends are going through their own challenges with health and other problems.
What's behind me in my life is there for me to see in old photos, read in old letters I've saved, recall with my children in our telephone/email conversations. Some of the memories are smile-bringers--remembering a time and place and the people involved in a birthday party or a Christmas family celebration. Some memories bring sadness--folks no longer with us, relatives and friends lost to time and death.
But I count my memories as blessings--yes, including those memories I'd rather take out to the landfill and bury deep. Without who I was, I wouldn't be who I am today. Neither would you who are reading this post. There's always the possibility that we'll learn from our past mistakes, pass along some wisp of wisdom to a family member or friend, perhaps to a stranger.
My goal--my challenge to myself--is to dwell in the present. See the good around me. Help folks who need a boost, a kind word, a warm blanket. The past is past--I can learn from what's gone before. The future is not yet here--I can plan and prepare, but I can't live it until it arrives.
Yesterday I celebrated Autumn's arrival with a drive through the country. Not much color yet in our area, but it's coming, it's coming. I checked on the new chrysanthemum I planted a week ago and gave it a big drink. For supper I ate chicken and vegetable stew I'd made and frozen a month ago. An autumn supper, with bread and butter on the side.
Welcome Autumn your way--football games, tailgate parties; trips to the orchard for cider and apples; stocking up on pumpkins and corn shocks for the October look.
And while you're at it, celebrate being alive. Today.