Friday, September 25, 2009
Thoughts on changing leaves
The leaves are changing here in Vermont. And the long term weather predictions have snow mixed with rain predicted for next week. As I drove to Rupert early this morning, it struck me how fast the color change is happening - there as a noticeable difference in the contrast of green and bright colors just from my drive yesterday afternoon.
If I were in Virginia still, it would be what we call "Indian Summer", where the leaves are just starting to change, but the days are still warm, hot even sometimes, well into the month of October. But here, with the change of color, comes a briskness that rapidly turns to cold. Monday morning, for instance, I went for a walk in the Manassas Virginia battlefield, which lies near my hotel. It was early, still dark, but warm and smelling of summer. This morning, eight hours north, the farmers were wearing heavy flannel jackets, their hoods up, and clouds of warm breath punctuating their faces as they worked.
When I visit Virginia, my friends often ask me if I like Vermont "better" than Virginia. It's not that way at all. I love Virginia. You don't stay 54 years in a place without loving it. (At least I don't.). But I have quickly come to love Vermont as well. It's different, with it's own beauty, it's own special light, and I can love one place and not love the other less.
Part of the thing I love is the differences. At my age, after living in a place all your life, you tend to know that place intimately. I knew the history of the little downs up and down I-81, the hiking trails, the shops and politics, how things are done, the way people worshiped, the light for photography.
Here, it's all new. Every day, and I mean that - EVERY day, is a discovery. At times, I feel like a child with all the discovery, all the newness. There are no real expectations of how things should work, because I expect things to be different. In fact, I find myself surprised when I find sameness (and there is some). I am constantly asking people about this and that and each day is a lesson of discovery.
I feel blessed by this period of discovery, to find myself with that child like wonder again. The events that eventually led to this were not something I particularly relished, but in the end, as God so often does, he turned something painful into something joyful, and as I walk through the changing season, I often find myself in prayer of thanks for it all, for his care the has made most every bad thing in my life end up, in time, good.
People here seem to have taken the short growing season and fast falling cold in the same spirit. People LOVE their gardens up here and nearly every house has some. Flowers are everywhere, and nurseries thrive like no place I have ever been. Part of the reason, I believe, is that they know the beautiful flowers have such a short life, and so they need to actively soak in the joy of their beauty as fully as possible while it is with them.
I got some of that same sense this past weekend as I visited my children in Virginia. My daugher and I spent a lot of time talking about college and realizing how close that is, and how close to grown she is made me treasure the few years of her childhood I've been blessed to share, and made me treasure the hours my younger son spent swimming like two kids all the more.
Life's a treasure, but not one we hoard. It's an ephemeral treasure, like Manna for the Isrealites, here today and then gone when we hoard it, so it is best to grasp the moment, savor it, be thankful for it, and have faith that tomorrow will bring yet a new delight, something unexpected and bright.
PS - the picture is one I took this morning, along Pawlet Mountain Road on the edge of Rupert, Vermont. You can click on it for a larger version.