Here in Winona County, everyone's personal spaces are undergoing a gradual, at times drastic, seasonal transition. All the earth around us turns, like seething waves of a sea, back into itself, submitting to death in order to fulfill the miracle of renewed life.
Just as swiftly as it appears, summer speaks its farewell. Those flowers you had intended to get for the deck and the front step were never planted. That day away to transcribe the countryside with camera and pen never came. Painting that outside bench and deck railing was to be your seasonal project, but no time seemed right.
On one of our recent jaunts up to Chetek, WI, I happened to look up from a new book I had been reading to fix my sights on the meandering Mississippi, along fertile hills of Highway 61 N, on our way to the bridge at Wabasha. The rough four-lane snakes between massive growths of trees protruding from rock walls. A railroad track follows the highway on the east. Where farm plots square off between Kellogg and Wabasha corn crops have gone from bad to worse this season.
Though we'd traveled this route many times, I became a sightseer that morning - on the outside peering in. What is new to the traveler is often taken for granted by the local resident. Do we look with eyes blinded by deep-set concerns and troubles, shutting out the tranquility all around us?
That weekend we came home to anything but tranquility. On August 19th, as we headed for Winona County, cell phone calls warned us of roads closed and houses and businesses taking on water. Highway 61 was flooded with the overflowing Whitewater. Residents in some areas had lost their dwellings, campers, and businesses. People were swept away.
We worried (and prayed) on the dubious, out-of -the-way ride home to Lewiston. Our house suffered only minimal water seepage in downstairs carpets, sparing our computer center. Driving into town, we had seen folks milling around on saturated yards, pumping basements, and consoling neighbors. The scenery was definitely under close scrutiny that day and throughout the weeks to follow. It was in your face and heavy on the mind.
There is an integral balance between discouragement and acceptance, of peace versus despair, and of healing washing away doom, through faith, but also by the helping hands and compassion of strangers. In-between the seasons focus on the goodness of others, changes vibrant with virtue, and let go of what was not accomplished and what caused you undue stress and hardship before one season's departure into the next.
Look to the joys, those special family times, a new season's power to heal, and each dawn as a new beginning. The busy work and fussing over the mundane duties will wait, or maybe are a waste of precious time and energy in the first place. Reach out to your neighbors who are in great need due to the wrath of recent natural disasters.
When our granddaughters and grandson visit us at our camper, we go on "treasure hunts" in nearby forest areas. Through their curiosity and simple wonder, the smallest particles surprisingly reveal their intricate, awesome beauty. A most effectual word for an adult to speak to a child in the out-of-doors is "Look!" (That can go both ways.)
Nothing stays the same for long. The power of nature's capabilities goes from magnificent to malicious and back. It must be respected for its dominance over all livings beings.
The in-between times, between storms and calm, happiness and grief, and from season to season, can be opportunities to make another's burden lighter, and with the awe of a child"¦to pause and to "Look!"
"See, I make all things new!"
Janet Burns lives in the heart of Winona County. She can be reached at