Changing Seasons: Lessons from the Garden

It's autumn. There's something about this season that gets me every year; but then, there's something about the change of seasons that always gets me. I must be wired for change because I can't help but do a jig every time the wind changes and the air turns with a new season. 

For a good number of my friends, autumn is a bracing season: hold tight, bundle up, scrunch your face and tense your muscles before Old Man Winter delivers his first arctic punch. For me, though, it's a releasing season. All the energy and sunlight and busyness I stored up over the bright months of summer gets me ready to relax into routine.

A few years ago, I wrote this of autumn: 

The kettle begins its work; tiny drum beats of boiling water while footsteps outside join Jason's fingers tapping on the keyboard in an uneven rhythm. The heater ends its labor with a shudder, and the house descends into a deeper hush. Now I hear the

tick
            tock
    tick

and I count the moments that drown in meaning and life and fullness.

It's funny how things change and yet they don't.

I celebrate the change of seasons four times a year, but how I celebrate is rhythmic and unchanging and steady.


This year I planted my first "real" garden, complete with peppers and squash and tomatoes and beans. I'm a novice gardener, but I gave it a go with a few seed packets and help from the Internet. I'm still in shock at the sheer overabundance of gorgeous produce a little patch of dirt and my puny skills created. It's encouraging that you can rely on Creation like that. When you put together seeds, dirt, sunlight, and water, you get plants. That's just how it works. 

I made my share of mistakes and learned some things the hard way—like don't let corn get overripe and don't plant round zucchini next to pumpkins (they look exactly alike). I also spent countless therapeutic hours weeding, trimming, harvesting, and planting, and I'm still reaping the benefits of my garden's gentle lessons. 

Now that harvest season is slowing down, the garden looks bare again. I pulled out my tired, over-productive crook-neck squash plants today and marveled at how open and lacking the space they left looks. I did the same to the corn last week, and yet another garden plot looks like it did in May before plants filled it with life. There it is again: change that is a cycle, not a reinvention. Change that goes back to the way it was before. 

The garden is showing me how the cycle of the seasons is both routine and refresh, perennial and original, ancient and renewed.  

Autumn calms me before the rush and harsh of winter and holidays; winter wearies me but breaks gloriously as spring refreshes me, encourages me; summer invigorates and warms me, and then the cycle of change and constancy begins again.