Love in May

Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago, the spring after I quit my teaching job. What a beautiful spring it was! My whole world opened up. Gone was the insomnia and the heart palpitations. Here was opportunity and freedom! This feeling and the life surrounding me made me remember the first time I fell in love.

I hope you’re all doing  well. Take care and enjoy what’s left of this beautiful month of May! ~ Lori

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No wonder I first fell in love in May!

Walking down a village sidewalk yesterday, I breathed in deeply the sweet air and remembered falling in love that first time. The sky was a cloudless blue above me and against this background huge purple lilac flowers bloomed, apple trees blossomed, and so did mountain ash trees. The perfumed air was full of birdsong and frog calls. Warmly and lightly, the breeze touched my face and the earth felt solid under each step I took. If you’re going to fall in love, May is a good month to do it.

Hear me read this post:

The scented air and the soft breeze, the sounds of the birds and the bees, all reminded me of a day long ago and of a boy wearing a plaid shirt and riding a red horse. He had freckles across his nose, dark hair, and bright blue eyes. I’d seen him around, but not like this. Suddenly, I really saw him.

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The Church Picnic

It was easy to fall in love at that church picnic because of everything around me and in me coming to life that Sunday in May. It was the easiest, most natural thing in the world.

At this time of year, everything is calling out to each other. “Hey, I’m alive! Are you alive? Let’s make more life!”

Attracting Attention

Flowers and trees bloom to attract the attention of the butterflies and the bees. Robins and sparrows and mourning doves all sing their seduction songs. Frogs croak and insects hum and all for the same reason. “Time is short and May is wonderful! Let’s make more life!”

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Young people are all dressed up and dancing and drinking intoxicating nectar. They might think they’re doing something completely different than the birds and the bees and the frogs and the trees. They aren’t. Those young bodies are propelled by exactly the same seductive forces. “Life is short and we are young!” And so they draw one another closer and continue life’s dance.

Savouring the Season

When I was differently employed than I am now, I missed much of May. Like the students who sat in their unyielding desks and wondered about the world outside the classroom windows, I wondered too. A bird’s shadow would flit past the windows or poplar fuzz would drift lazily by and we’d all turn to see what was happening out there where life was.

How we kept May at bay, I don’t know. She pressed at the windows and knocked on our classroom door. “Let me in! I’m alive! Are you?” We are, but we’re trying to keep a lid on it…

Lone Daisy
 

May is the time in this corner of the world when everything has finally thawed out and every living creature is seeking a mate with whom to continue and affirm life. I couldn’t help but fall in love. I was far too young to find a mate, but May was the perfect time to dip my toe in the inviting waters of love.

Cheering for Life

We’re all cheering for life. That’s why we love babies and sunshine and kittens and puppies. It’s why we enjoy springtime and why we enjoy love, and it’s why we love May. Of all the twelve months, May is the one cheering loudest for life and of all the months, it’s the perfect time to fall in love.

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Natural Hot Springs Adventure

IMG_6311Here’s a post I wrote a while ago about an unexpected experience at a river’s edge where there was a natural hot spring. I think next time I’ll spend the $6.00. I’ll miss the naked guy, but I’ll appreciate a shower and a nice place to change. Take care! – Lori

“If you want to save some money, there is a natural hot spring down by the river’s edge. It’s beautiful and hardly anyone ever goes down there. Just follow the second logging road in through the trees. You’ll find it.”

The woman at the tourist information centre made it sound like paradise: towering cedars, clear water, and bubbling hot springs. And all for free. Who could resist? And, really, why would you want to?

Listen to me read this post:

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She was right. It wasn’t hard to find. The logging road was well used and, although deeply rutted here and there, quite comfortably passable until we got to the spot where a tree had fallen across the road. A vehicle was already stopped at the tree because there was no way around the tree. Three people were working away to move the barrier. With our muscle added to the effort, the very heavy tree was rolled off the roadway.

We drove a bit farther and finally a little orange sign nailed to a massive tree trunk along the road indicated that this was where to get out and start walking.

The first path was wide and with many twists and turns, and it ended up at a large wooden tub that someone had built by hand. A green garden hose ran into the huge vat from an unseen source. The big wooden tub was full to the brim with steaming water. I stuck my finger in, pulled it out with lightning speed and thought, “If I had 4000 potatoes I needed to boil almost instantly, this set up would be perfect!”

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From where we stood next to the deathtrap hot tub, I could hear   water moving swiftly over rocks. We followed a narrower path around a bend and for a few metres before the river came into view.

There, at water’s edge, someone had painstakingly constructed a piled-stone wall enclosing a little hot pool area six by eight feet or so. A dirty and tattered blue plastic tarp also helped to dam up the separate pool. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Inside that roughly walled off section near the river’s shore, the water was still. Another green garden hose stuck out of the rocks that lined the riverbank. From this flowed more of the potato-boiling hot water I was telling you about. This hot water poured out of the garden hose and splashed into the cold water of the Arrow Lakes chain. Where hot and cold met in the rock pool, the water was pleasantly warm.

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A forest path.

We stripped down to our swimming suits, left our clothes on a rock and gingerly stepped in. Not bad. We hadn’t been in there long before someone emerged from the trees on that narrow path. In one hand he held a paperback novel and in the other, half a bottle of red wine. We greeted him. He quietly answered in French and smiled, the light brightening his dreadlocks as he moved out of the shade and into the sun closer to the water’s edge.

Then I watched in fascination as this young man set down his book and his bottle on a flat rock, and proceeded to remove every stitch of clothing. I knew I should look away but this was way too good to believe!

I assumed he was a tree planter, planting new trees in the forests that had been logged. Naked as the day he was born, he scooped up the novel and his wine, and sat down on a boulder. There he read and drank and let his toes dangle in the hot water. From where I sat, I couldn’t argue that he seemed right at home and I envied, just a little, this young stranger’s comfort with himself and the world.

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Although I admired his youth and sense of freedom, I decided to leave some of my own clothes on that afternoon because I no longer share his youth and I’ve never quite been that free. Still, the tree planter made the experience of the natural hot springs just a little more natural, and that was great!

Thanks for reading. Have a great new week! – Lori

 

 

 

 

A Change in Routine, A Change in Perspective

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A pasture in the late afternoon sun along the road I walk.

Here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago all about how shaking up our routine can open us up to a renewed view of life. Today I’m considering facing a fear and digging into a couple projects I’ve left untouched for too long. And so I find myself thinking about a change in routine and a change in perspective.

I hope you have a great new week in which you can experience a refreshed outlook. We all need that in January! ~ Lori

Listen to me read this post:

I’d felt a cold circling around my head last night as we played a board game with the neighbours. I wasn’t surprised when I woke up with a throbbing headache, irritated throat, and clogged sinuses. No problem, though. I took it easy all day, slept in, and drank tea.

At about 5:00, I felt a bit better and a little restless. Today the weather warmed up. The temperature rose from about -30 degrees Celsius to about -5. No longer a prisoner in my house and thinking that maybe the fresh air would do me good, I went out for a walk.

Lately, I’ve developed a habit of walking in the early afternoon, right after lunch, when the light is full. How different my world looks at 5:00 p.m. with the sun low in the sky and the street lights making the snow crystals sparkle like diamonds.

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Another late-afternoon view from along the road I walk north of town.

Against the washed-denim sky, fading with each passing minute, bare tree branches stretched and tangled together, black and stark. In the ditches along the road, tracks told of rabbits that had been there just before me.

As I walked by, the horses that looked like painted plywood cutouts propped up in the pasture raised their curious noses to watch me. When I inhaled, the clean winter air filled my lungs and as I exhaled, I felt all the cold germs leave my body.

Through the very last light of day I headed back into town grateful that a minor head cold gave me a change in routine and a change in perspective.

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t be a stranger. ~ Lori

 

The Stars and the Moon to Gain

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Eclipse moon.

Here’s a piece I wrote a while back about what we miss when we don’t get outside and look up at the night sky. A friend recently told me the story of their friends who came to visit from Calgary. They were staying with my friends on their farm in northern Alberta.

Before they went to bed, the guests from the city told their hosts, “If there are northern lights tonight, please wake us up no matter what time.”

My friend, Aline, woke up at 3:00 a.m. and glanced out her bedroom window. In the sky above the coulee danced bright green lights, extending upwards like glowing stairways to heaven. Quietly, she crept down the hall and stood outside her visitors bedroom door. She deliberated a long time before finally gently knocking.

As if awaiting the news, the enthusiastic city folk were wide awake. They donned their robes, my friends grabbed some blankets, and the four of them sat outside in lawnchairs for a couple hours to watch anything better than television has to offer.

On a Sunday evening last week, I stood out on my front lawn with binoculars and my camera watching that beautiful, white moon grow slimmer and slimmer until, instead of fading away, she turned red before my eyes and camera lens. As I stood there shivering with wonder and from the night chill I thought, “Why don’t I look at the night sky more often?”

Then last Friday night a friend and I were enjoying a glass of wine on my front step. As we visited in the cool dark of evening, the stars twinkled above us against their inky purple backdrop. With the sky right there and unobscured by ceiling and roof, our conversation grew softer, more intimate. It felt like our words now had the attention of the night sky, and so those syllables better be sweet and worth speaking.

Hear me read this post:

After my friend left, I asked my husband to go for a nighttime walk. Yes, I realized it was cool, but sometimes – not often – I walk in 20 below temperatures. I reminded him gently that snow is just around the corner and that opportunities like this one are fleeting. The sky was blacker than it had been during my front step visit, and as we walked out of reach of the street lights’ glow, the sky grew darker and larger still.

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April moon through the trees.

We stopped for a moment along the railway tracks and under the spreading boughs of a row of old trees. We listened as the breeze moved the dying leaves, making them brush up against one another, to jostle and drift down to the asphalt. Autumn sounds. Halloween sounds, like the slow dance of skeletons. These sounds were precious, ones that I would’ve missed out on during time spent in front of the television.

It seems improbable, I know, but I think until that night when I saw it again, I had completely forgotten about the Milky Way! How sad. It’s worth considering that perhaps I’ve been spending way too many of my evenings in the basement on my elliptical trainer and not nearly enough out walking with the sky looking down on my progress, unhurried and refreshingly aimless. “Where are you going?” the moon might ask. I’d tell her, “Nowhere in particular.” The moon might smile and think, “How nice.”

Full Moon

The vastness of the night sky makes me feel insignificant in the most comforting way. I’m lucky to live in a village where there is very little light pollution to keep me from admiring the night sky. And yet, I don’t spend much time outside at night just enjoying the experience of night, the experience of being so small, a blonde bump on the earth’s surface. From the perspective of the stars, my problems are tiny and short-lived; my life, a breath; my existence, neither here nor there, but just maybe, in a way, everywhere.

Although I’m not one for resolving to act in any certain way, preferring to remain flexible, I think I’ll make a conscious effort to spend a bit more time under the stars and a little less under the glare of the pot lights recessed in my basement ceiling. This effort might just be worth it. After all, I’ve got nothing to lose, and the stars and the moon to gain.

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A pale December moon rests gently over the Alberta prairie.

Thanks for joining me tonight! Did you like what you read here? Consider following my blog so you don’t miss a post. It’s always good to spend time with you. ~ Lori

Goodbye, Summer – A Photo Blog

Hello! Thanks for joining me. I went out for a walk this morning with my camera and played around with its settings until I was able to capture some close-ups and distant shots of summer’s waning.

Shades of Red

 

 

Off in the Distance

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Light and White

 

 

About to Take Flight

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Stopping by Woods

 

 

Weeds or Flowers?

 

 

Mystery Solved!

For years now, I wondered each fall who was making that chirping sound outside under my bedroom window. It’s these black beetles preparing to hibernate. Who know? Not me until this morning when I heard the chirping and followed it down into the ditch. Here’s what I heard and saw:

 

 

It was nice to spend some time with you! Thanks for dropping by.

~ Lori

Dying Butterfly

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A fall road from around here.

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a great weekend. I spent the day visiting some old friends. We ate freshly-baked chocolate zucchini cake and had a good chat. Here’s a post I wrote a few years back. It’s about a former student and how a dying butterfly got us talking about life and death.

The other day, a child brought me a butterfly. He held out his hands and gently opened them to reveal a very cold butterfly indeed. The boy told me, “Ms. K., I found this butterfly.” I could tell that he believed that I would know what to do with this delicate creature suspended somewhere between life and death – as if I know anything about life and death. But there he stood, waiting for an answer and, in a way, I was honoured that he sought it from me.

Listen to me read this post:

It was obvious that the butterfly was on its last legs and so I suggested a solution that would benefit as many creatures as possible. “Would you like me to take it back outside and set it somewhere safe? Then the butterfly will fly away or will be food for a hungry bird that needs it.” The student thought this was acceptable, and off he went to unpack his backpack as I headed out the front doors to find a sheltered spot in which to leave the butterfly.

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Mountain ash leaves in the autumn.

Who ever knows the best course of action when faced with life’s big questions, especially those questions about life and death? Are there right or wrong answers? I suspect that there aren’t any, and that’s why, in this case, I tried to look beyond the limited life span of the tiny, winged creature and into the larger world. If the boy and I had merrily tossed the butterfly to the classroom floor, stomped on it and flung it into the garbage can, what a waste it would have been!

The butterfly is likely dead by now and, I hope, has provided some fuel for a migratory journey. That, surely, is the best outcome. I think. But when it comes to the fact of mortality, I don’t feel very certain at all. I suppose all we can do in the face of death is to accept it and live until we die with the aim of providing the most benefit as possible while we are on the earth.

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If you like what you read and heard here, consider following me. That would be great! Thanks for reading and listening. ~ Lori

The Miracle of Resurrection

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Yesterday morning and the evening before, I went for a walk and brought my camera with me so that I could share with you the miracle of resurrection here in the parkland region of east-central Alberta.

Listen to me read this post:

Crocuses Galore!

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A crocus on Crocus Hill.

I didn’t even notice them at first, and I sure wasn’t looking for them because there’s never been this abundance of crocuses in the thirteen years we’ve lived here. Then, as I walked along, I glanced to my left and into the unbroken pasture there on the other side of the barbed wire fence. The brown prairie grass was dotted with the little purple flowers. It was spattered with those and lots of cow poop which may have contributed to the successful crop of crocuses. I don’t know what the perfect growing conditions for this early prairie flower are, but this April those tiny, fuzzy flowers must be getting exactly what they need.

 

Earlier on in the week, my auntie and I drove south and visited Crocus Hill. Over the years, she’d talked about the place where the prairie soil had never been tilled, and where crocuses grew amid the ancient stones of the tipi rings there along the valley. I’d never been there before and was so fortunate to see it during a spring like this one. There were flowers everywhere, but they grew especially thick on the southern-exposed hillsides.

Spring Courting

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Who wouldn’t want to mate with this guy?

A robin’s song is never so sweet as when he is looking for a mate. I guess those birds are like the rest of us when we’re seeking someone to pair up with. We work out, get our hair cut, buy some new clothes, and try to look our best. After the mate’s been secured, well, our beauty regimen can go in any direction. Often, though not always, that direction is down.

The robin’s song as he sat perched at the very top of the tree was clear and enticing. I spotted him up there last evening, trilling away, but I didn’t have my camera. That morning I couldn’t see the robin through the branches, but I got some very good recordings of his mating song.

Frogs are the same way, singing their loudest song and hoping to attract other frogs. I didn’t see any of those amorous little guys either but I captured their voices.

New Life

The earth is resilient. We beat it up and dominate it, but it just keeps on keeping on. Along the road I walked, green grasses pushed their stubborn way up through the already-dry earth and the layer of last year’s dead grass that covers it. Here and there a gopher popped up, too. There are fewer gophers this season. Last year, the deep snow didn’t melt until the beginning of May. Maybe litters of baby gophers didn’t survive and if they did, the increased numbers of birds of prey in this area were happy to eat them. Still, I’ve seen a couple of gophers here and there this spring. They are more evidence for the miracle of resurrection.

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This old barn from along the road I walk will likely never be resurrected.

 

I hope you all had a nice weekend. If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was a rejuvenating and uplifting holiday for you this time around.

Thanks for dropping by to read and listen. Please consider following me here on WordPress. I’m on social media less and less these days but would love to keep in touch. Follow me here if you’d like to stay connected. Also, please consider sharing this post to your own social media feed. That would be great! You can share my videos too.

Take care and enjoy the miracle of resurrection that spring brings!

~ Lori

Tracks in the Snow

 

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Dog’s footprint in the snow.

When I walk by myself in the snow, I’m never walking alone.

The other morning I went out for a walk in the fresh snow. My usual road was suddenly new. A variety of footprints indented the snow with their different shapes and depths. There were huge cloven hoof prints that showed where a moose had leapt a barbed wire fence, and ran through the ditch and across the road.

A tiny set of four shallow depressions told the tale of a mouse bounding through the snow. A larger set of canine paw prints followed right behind and then caught up where there was a scuffle in the snow and where both sets of prints disappeared. On the opposite side of the disturbed snow, the canine paws continued. The tiny prints did not.

Listen to me read this post:

Tracks in the new fallen snow told me about the birds in my backyard, large and small, feasting at the feeder, and about the cat watching them from behind the low bushes beyond. Deer footprints in my yard told me of wild, hungry creatures that had developed a taste for birdseed.

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Bird tracks in my backyard

Some footprints in the snow bore the intricate pattern of rubber soles. One of these sets was larger than mine and was closely accompanied by big dog feet that occasionally strayed off into the deeper snow in the ditch. The other shoe prints looked familiar. They were the imprint of my own soles from yesterday afternoon’s walk.

Tire tracks swerving into the ditch until they stopped where the snow was deep told me that someone had underestimated the slippery road conditions. The tire tracks veered sharply out of the ditch, kicking up dirt and dead grass along the way, reassuring me that the vehicle had four-wheel-drive and that the driver was able to get unstuck.

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A BIG moose track.

When we walk in the snow, we never walk alone. Those varied prints in the snow remind us of all the beings with whom we share the road. Maybe they’re a bit behind or perhaps they’re running ahead. They might be moving on two legs or they might be traveling on four. They might be strolling for pleasure or running for their lives. They might be searching for food or trying to walk off all the food they just ate.

No matter the road, we never walk alone. There may not be anyone else in sight, but others have come before and others will follow. Every traveler will be different than us in some small way, fur-bearing or toque-wearing. But mostly they’ll be the same in that we’re all on life’s journey and we’re all doing the best we can to navigate it.

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Deer track in the melting snow.

Thanks for spending some time with me here at my website. So glad you could stop by. For those of you who live in my neck of the woods, I’ll be at the HPS Christmas Market on Saturday, November 24th selling my books and our local history book. Memories and Milestones is on sale for $100/set and my young adult novels are $5 each. It would be great to see you there! ~ Lori

Dying Butterfly

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A fall road from around here.

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a great weekend. I spent the day visiting some old friends. We ate freshly-baked chocolate zucchini cake and had a good chat. Here’s a post I wrote a few years back. It’s about a former student and how a dying butterfly got us talking about life and death.

The other day, a child brought me a butterfly. He held out his hands and gently opened them to reveal a very cold butterfly indeed. The boy told me, “Ms. K., I found this butterfly.” I could tell that he believed that I would know what to do with this delicate creature suspended somewhere between life and death – as if I know anything about life and death. But there he stood, waiting for an answer and, in a way, I was honoured that he sought it from me.

Listen to me read this post:

It was obvious that the butterfly was on its last legs and so I suggested a solution that would benefit as many creatures as possible. “Would you like me to take it back outside and set it somewhere safe? Then the butterfly will fly away or will be food for a hungry bird that needs it.” The student thought this was acceptable, and off he went to unpack his backpack as I headed out the front doors to find a sheltered spot in which to leave the butterfly.

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Mountain ash leaves in the autumn.

Who ever knows the best course of action when faced with life’s big questions, especially those questions about life and death? Are there right or wrong answers? I suspect that there aren’t any, and that’s why, in this case, I tried to look beyond the limited life span of the tiny, winged creature and into the larger world. If the boy and I had merrily tossed the butterfly to the classroom floor, stomped on it and flung it into the garbage can, what a waste it would have been!

The butterfly is likely dead by now and, I hope, has provided some fuel for a migratory journey. That, surely, is the best outcome. I think. But when it comes to the fact of mortality, I don’t feel very certain at all. I suppose all we can do in the face of death is to accept it and live until we die with the aim of providing the most benefit as possible while we are on the earth.

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If you like what you read and heard here, conisder following me. That would be great! Thanks for reading and listening. ~ Lori

Summer Mourning

Harvest Time
Grain ready to be harvested.

Today I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the fresh fruit and vegetables, the dewy morning grass, the towering sunflowers. I’m mourning time alone and time spent with friends. I’m mourning sweet, summer wine and long, golden-lit evenings. I’m mourning summer’s loss.

Maybe it’s the weather…

Perhaps it’s the cool, dull weather making my heart ache – nine degrees Celsius and rainy. I’m neither productive nor focused. I’m all over the place, doing a little of this, a little of that, and nothing much of anything. I’ve left and returned to this piece of writing five times now, and writing this still feels like walking through deep mud.

Listen to me read this post:

Every year summer leaves.

What’s going on with me? Every year summer leaves. That’s just how it goes. It’s a short season in this part of the world. I should know that. I do know that, but today this knowledge isn’t helping me any.

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Once-green leaves, now turned red.

I had a great summer. I suppose if it had been a miserable summer I might not be experiencing this mild agony now, this longing for something not yet departed but on the verge of leaving.

For almost half of this summer I traveled and during those travels I visited in the most satisfying way with friends and family. I saw some old friends and through those experiences, felt like I’d made some new ones. When I wasn’t traveling, I was at home nurturing my garden, nurturing my writing, and nurturing myself.

Sweet summer, bitter fall.

This summer, I think I may’ve become too attached to the season itself, and allowed myself to get too used to the colour green spread out beneath cobalt blue. I forgot to build my immunity to falling leaves and falling temperatures. I forgot about the deep, white world that will cover the very spot where the sweet peas are blooming now and where the raspberries already have had the good sense to start dying. Today, I am remembering all these eventualities for which I am sadly ill prepared.

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Orange sunflowers in autumn.

If I can let go, though, and wave a fond farewell to summer, maybe then I’ll remember the sweetness of autumn: the comfort of routine, the orange of pumpkins and of mountain ash leaves, the soft yellow of harvested fields. I may even consider the white wrap of winter surrounding my cozy house, giving me permission to hibernate on a Saturday morning. Slowly, slowly spring will come again and thaw the frozen earth, the same earth into which I’ll drop the sweet pea seeds that soaked overnight in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

But today, in the rain and alone with my thoughts, I don’t want to let go.

 

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