Autumn brings a physical change in the weather and Midwest landscape. This week a nearby condominium replaced summer flowers with these hardy Mums. They are hardy officially but still considered as annuals in the Chicago area; they aren’t “hardy” enough for Lake Michigan’s winter temps. Other flowers are in their final bloom cycle as blossoms fade in color and turn to textured seed heads bringing a new element of design and pattern to the garden. During this time of change, pods begin bursting so that puffs of feathery seeds are dispersed in hopes of ensuring future generations. Among the fading petals and growing seeds there are some late bloomers adding perennial colors to the scene.
Embrace the changes in the season. Embrace changes that are natural. At this time of year, it’s easy for me to be reflective and to realize changes in my life and myself during the past year. Somehow this “end” of season time of year brings renewed energy and purpose to me. May you marvel and feel empowered from your own changes this past year. May you find energy and passion to be able to embrace changes in your life. May change be positive and meaningful for each of us.
I write all this realizing it’s a challenging time as we strive to come to terms with other’s choices and decisions. Other’s choices can make us feel dis empowered and hopeless. We always have a choice in how we react to others and their actions. The fact that we have our own power and choice is what keeps me optimistic.
Nothing is more telling of life’s development than the gradual change of Hydrangea shrubs’ clusters of delicate flowers from pale green, pure white, then soft pink, which deepens toward purple and finally changes to neutral taupe. This shrub is still actively in bloom, undaunted by the cooling temperatures. It’s difficult for me to walk past them every day and not pick a few to savor as a dried bouquet during the upcoming winter. Mine, for the first time, didn’t bloom at all this year!?!
I began my focus on the distant shoreline, across the Skokie River. It’s an inaccessible section of Forest Preserve; no bike, foot or horse trails. It’s my nature to want to go where I’m not allowed, where others have not trod. I want to explore the unexplored, which is difficult to do in our much settled Chicago area. So I veer off the bike trail and follow the foot trail which is dirt instead of paved and less traveled. It is early morning so I saw about sixty travelers (bikers, dog-walkers, hikers) along the paved bike trail, I was the only soul along the river’s edge (at least of the human kind).
Across the river showed exposed tree roots, a surprise because spring usually produces raised rivers holding winter’s melted snows and springs prolific rains spilling into the forest floor. Irises were close at the edge taking advantage of the wet environment, not yet ready to bloom. I focused on the old broken tree stump as a prominent point of interest. My ever wishful thoughts searched vainly for animal wildlife. This inaccessible area seems the perfect place to spot deer and other forest creatures, yet in twenty seven years I have yet to see any. But I admit that they are most probably deeper in this habitat, choosing not to be the people-tolerant deer that I so often observe on the trails.
Artists learn quickly that the eye is drawn to the lightest elements in the scene and use this to focus the viewer on their intended subject. I could not help but notice the morning sunlit Maple leaves on my side of the river just above me. The artist in me realigned the image and focused on these brilliantly lit leaves. The tree trunk and the distant river’s edge became the leaves’ complementing background, providing a sense of perspective.
As I enjoyed this quiet scene, rich in God’s bounty, I noticed that this latter image was showing many stages of the trees’ life cycles. The foreground leaves showed springs’ reawakening of hardy deciduous trees. The background displayed the final stages of tree life including stumps and fallen branches as well as current life in the tree roots. Somehow seeing and knowing nature’s ability to continue year after year through many and varied storms reassures me that it is right to believe that all is well and will be well in spite of life’s many trials.