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Coming to terms (10/03/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Moods turn with the seasons. Wisdom grows throughout years of seasons.

Iíve always been an outdoors person, but I realize, in earlier years I didnít embrace the splendor and fecundity all around us. I didnít skip along carefree with the flow. I worked too hard at life back then, thinking, ďhow small and insignificant I am, melting into my own shadow in a vacuum of insecurity.Ē

Today, I see beyond myself, at times overcome with childlike wonderment in discoveries along forest paths, on beaches, and in ever-changing cloud designs, everywhere one can feel and smell elements of each season.

Years back, I muse now, where were the rolling hills of Winona County, laden with crayon colored hues? The serene or turbulent waters along my way? Where were all the songbirds flitting from limb to limb and delicate, fetching wildflowers waving from forest clearings, which now tickle my ankles and my fancy?

Where were autumn fields of corn and soybeans turned to golden seas? How had I not noted giant, ancient trees, each unique in stature and character, that rise above us, the farthest limbs poking through heaven and roots anchored in the bowels of the earth?

These gifts of the natural world have been here-and-there all along. It was me who hadnít grasped their magnitude, during lifeís gradual changes, by steps and degrees, from adolescent moodiness and puppy love, to teen years of studies, dating, and partying, and then hesitantly crossing the threshold to adulthood, with ups and downs of young marriage and mommyhood, and the preoccupation of volunteerism, bookkeeping, and raising teenagers.

For years, I may have looked, but I really hadnít seen. It was not like now, as I see, not with eyes alone, but with heart and soul, Godís splendor everywhere! Unexpectedly, mid-lifeís routine slowed, from a frenzied mad rush and a mind-cluttering array of bookwork, to a crawl, and disability. Diagnosis: Parkinsonís Disease. In time, Iíve discovered, as new challenges have made me strong and determined, that Parkinsonís is definitely not a death sentence. Live on!

As Pat and I drove to Chetek recently, where we enjoy our camper and pontoon boat, it was a time to reflect on another season soon to end, our 11th year. The scenic, two and one half hour drive, through Arcadia, and the small towns on our way north on Highway 53, is full-blown with both colorful and drab features of this time of ďgood death.Ē

Just as it has been down through time, hillsides are on fire, leaf by leaf. Soon naked tree silhouettes will stiffly creak and sway against a blank, foreboding Midwestern sky. Along highways and country roads, willowy grasses blush with soft pink and mauve hues, where cattails, crown vetch, and late wildflowers cling to their last hurrah. Sumac wears its crimson death well. Crops ribbon slopes and valleys with amber abundance, another harvest of plenty.

Iíve always named my final bouquets of wildflowers, from the wooded area at our resort, ďa study in life and death.Ē I see beauty and virtue in living blooms, purple-tinged and curlicue grasses, as well as dried things. All provide an interesting essence and allure to arrangements. My favorite is wild carrot, or Queen Anneís Lace, both its dainty, white, clustered flowers forming an intricate lace-like pattern and, in its death, as umbels curl to form a woven, cuplike birdís nest.

I was delighted to still find abundant ďbutter-and-eggs,Ē toadflax, yellow with orange palates, bobbing at my feet. It comprised a good share of one of the three arrangements I assembled for our potluck at camp that evening. I believe that the greatest pleasure is in the gathering.

The hearty meal was followed by a rousing good time around a crackling campfire...a warming closure to another season in paradise, with dear friends and companions.

We all blossom and grow at our own pace. Grandchildren have a delightful way of softening the rough edges. For all things there is a season. Carpe diem!

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.  


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