October is here and, although the first official day of autumn has already come and gone, for me there's always been something about October that signals the change of seasons. Summer slips gradually into Autumn with Winter waiting in the wings.
It's really like that with life in general. Seasons come and go, altering in their details but as consistent and regular in their passing as the pendulum of a clock. I find the seasonal cycles reassuring and, as a gardener and a photographer, I find that I'm very aware of the subtle signs of change. Days become longer or shorter, the quality of the light changes, and the songs of the birds and insects rise and fall as season melts into season.
It's beautiful. Even if I'm not fond of the heat and humidity of Summer or the bitter cold of Winter I accept, even welcome, the steady passage of the seasons.
I find, however, that my acceptance of the changing seasons doesn't really apply when I look at the cycle of my own life. Childhood is in my distant past and even my middle age is behind me. I can feel myself tipping into the valley of old age. And I do not find it at all beautiful.
Many people, mostly in their thirties, have told me they believe that each season of life is filled with its own gifts and I can understand their youthful optimism. But standing where I am is frightening at times. I am much more aware of life's fragility now than I was when I was thirty.
I think that's why gardening and photography are therapeutic for me. As I work in the soil and I work with the images I capture, I'm able to appreciate the beauty of all of life's cycles. And, if I can find beauty in the passage of a rose from the soft elegance of a newly opened bloom to its eventual old age and death, why am I not able to embrace that same beauty in the cycles of my own life?
I don't have an answer to that question. I don't know that there really is one. But I am thankful that I have created spaces in my life that allow me to consider it.
©Karen Opp James. All rights reserved.