Every time the seasons change, I feel older. Perhaps it reminds me of the impermanence of life. When the air grows crisp, when the wildflowers bloom, when the first snow hits the mountain peaks, or light extends throughout the longest day, it serves as a symbol of cyclical motion, like the wheels on a bike; Earth is moving forward towards some great unanswerable mystery, and with it, so are we.
Every season’s character has a gift in the form of annual traditions to which we may or may not be privy, but the gift exists around us. I speak not of holidays, for those were our gifts to ourselves, but rather, of natural gifts and physical sensations. Of course, there are the gifts in large packages: Autumn brings with it radiant foliage. Winter brings with it snow. Spring – green coastal hills. Etc…
But perhaps there are often more subtle gifts easily overlooked?
…Winter brings the need for hot chocolate and warm fireplaces. Spring brings the desire to play baseball. Summer, the boundless sense of possibilities on our horizons. Autumn brings a desire for beer.
A couple springs ago, I woke up early for no reason, got in my car, and drove out alone to Carrizo Plain National Monument in Central California. I heard there were wildflowers and I wanted to go see them before they disappeared for the next ten months. The gift of wildflowers comes as a small window of opportunity, usually in early spring. By May, everything is dead.
When I got to Carrizo Plain, there weren’t many others there. Only retirees who enjoyed photography. I struck up a conversation with one such flower-tourist who seemed pleased that a young boy such as myself would take the time to drive out to the middle of nowhere to look at flowers. I remember him saying with disdain: “Young people these days never go outside anymore. They’re so consumed by computers and television that when they go off to war to fight for their country, they don’t even know what they’re fighting for.”
It was beautiful. Pictures don’t do it justice.
I’ve gone to see the wildflowers of Carrizo Plain once during the quarter century that has been my lifetime. How many more times will I go out to see them before I die? At this rate, twice? If I’m lucky?
We have our daily lives that we control: where we go, to whom we talk, what we eat. But there is a life of the seasons – or rather four individual lives that come once a year, like wildflowers. Each time the season comes and goes, it presents to you a gift, and you have the option of taking that gift. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
If you’re reading this, you probably have many many thousands of days left in your life, I hope. But how many autumns? How many summers?