The wind whipped through the street this morning. It persuaded green leaves to leave their lovely aspen tree home and talked down branches. The gusts ushered in a hundred million specks of white snow that the weatherman predicts will accumulate to 4-13 inches. As any skeptical Midwesterner knows, he’s probably wrong. As the first snow of the season—in early September no less—it’s the talk of the state. No one expects it to be a staying snow, yet we can’t help but be up in arms about it.
This signal of season change came much sooner than we expected. We aren’t ready which is to say that our totes of winter clothes have not been dusted off yet and we’re still of the mindset that is planning for sunny summer hikes. We’ve all but skipped fall; some of the leaves have turned yellow here, but most are still rich with chlorophyll, green life pulsing through their leafy veins. We mourn what feels like the entire loss of fall as we’ve hopscotched over that beloved season into winter.
It’s beautiful that we can know a season by its various signals. We know spring by the green buds on trees and flowers, summer by rich green thriving under a bright, warm sun, fall by forests on fire with red, orange, and yellow leaves, and winter by snow covering the earth, demanding a self-imposed state of decay and hibernation.
When we see the signals, it is only natural to be excited by them. They indicate change, the beginning of the next thing. Even when they show up months early, our bodies are hardwired to be energized by the change. At the same time, the signals also indicate an ending of the now present, the soon-to-be-former thing. We grieve the warm sun or the high rivers or the crisp mornings. It hits harder this time, today, because the snow is so much earlier than it is supposed to be.
We have all lived enough days to know that the weather doesn’t do what we think it should do. It does what it does and we’re left in the wake to deal. We adjust. We dig deep into the back of the closet. We dust off and unpack the totes. We look for our favorite hat, the cute one. With any luck we’re bright-eyed, but sometimes we’re just plain bleary-eyed. Regardless, we always face the new season because, we know this too: it won’t wait for us to catch up.
And isn’t that all of life? A constant unpacking of the totes, a continuous exiting of and entering into seasons? Still, we keep our totes and move forward. The dog needs to be walked, the groceries need to be bought, and we can do it.
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