Despite the fact that the day was dampish cold and dreary, the urge to go to the woods was overpowering. So even though I was still wearing a knee immobilizer and using a crutch (the result of a slip on the ice a couple of weeks ago), I packed up my camera and persuaded my husband to drive me out to a nearby nature reservation; my favorite retreat. I had no illusions. This was not a photography outing even though my camera hung by my side. I simply needed to connect with the natural world after being sequestered inside for weeks as I healed. But for me, the most healing places to be are in the woods. Here I walked slowly and softly. Listening. Breathing. Noticing. Soaking the experience into every part of me that I could. Despite the terrible lighting and photographic conditions, I shot a few frames “just because.” Mostly, however, I simply chose to “be.” Even though physically unable to wander from the beaten path deep into the woods (something I am wont to do, much to Richard’s chagrin), just being in these wonderful woods fed my soul and renewed my spirit. I am grateful for this walk in the dreary woods. I am renewed.
At times Autumn proves to be a difficult time for me. I love the spring and summer and want to make those seasons last for as long as possible. Autumn means we are heading into cold dreariness. Yuk. But since I’ve been practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, I’ve noticed a measurable change in my perceptions. One day this week when I got home from work, I was struck with the stunning beauty of trees that line the back of our property. As the sun was dropping lower in the west, it’s rays lit up the tree in all its brilliance. I was so taken that I ran inside, grabbed by camera, and shot a few photos. Even afterwards, I sat on our porch (bundled up due to the dropping temps) and gazed at the tree, the leaves as they decorated our lawn (yes, decorated!) and let my mind wander. Those few minutes–less than fifteen–from the time I got home to the time I finally went in for the night, were the most calming I’ve had all week. It occurred to me that if we stay present in the moment, we see things in a different light. It’s all about perception, and perception is what breaks or makes our days. Yes, the cold is coming (is here), and there will be snow. But today, now, the leaves are brilliantly painted in reds, oranges, and golds. And they are beautiful. And I am reminded that there is beauty and wonder in every season as there is in every age. Today I am greatful for Autumn leaves and the lesson they teach me.
My friends all know that I love spring and summer. Spring is my favorite time of year because everything is coming back to life. I’m usually not so keen on autumn and winter. How sad because we are now living in Cleveland where there is a lot of the colder months! Having said all that however, it occurred to me earlier this week that autumn is a beautiful month. Yes, it is the harbinger of colder days ahead, but autumn itself is beautiful. Colors are more rustic, but they are brilliant none-the-less, as the photos attest. From what I’m told, the colors will continue to intensify as the season progresses so I have a lot to look forward to. Autumn is a transitional season as the earth prepares for its winter hibernation. I thought about how life is like that, too. I once dreaded the middle-age and old years. Not so much anymore. I’m discovering that life is as colorful and joyful as ever. I’ve really come into my own and I’m far more optimistic than I was in my youth. I can’t do all the things I use to do; I do other things, more meaningful things instead. Young folks look at me and see the added wrinkles — and pounds — and dread this stage much as I once did. But I’m discovering it is a grand stage in life. Autumn mirrors life. I have dreaded its arrival, but this past weekend as Richard and I were exploring new trails to hike, I was struck with the beauty of the coming autumnal season, and I smiled. I can honestly say that I am grateful for autumn.