I was a bit disappointed this year when a few late October rainstorms pulled down the last of autumn’s brilliance before I could enjoy the northeast’s much-awaited peak foliage. Once the leaves are gone and the trees sit bare and shivering against cloudy skies, it’s… well… a bit ugly and depressing! And I get a little sad to see all the color and vibrancy fade away to barrenness.
I believe every season possesses beauty so this weekend I challenged myself to get outside before the next wave of rain came through. Some seasons just require a more thorough search for beauty. I had a great time exploring these treasures, but also was reminded how the changing seasons of life call for the right perspective when they feel a bit ugly and barren.
Intentional Searching Reveals Beauty - When the trees are aflame with color and the last of our fall flowers are in bloom, we need only to gaze through a window to enjoy the display. Appreciation for this beauty comes easily. But when the trees are stripped and the leaves lie brittle and brown (and in need of raking), it is not quite so lovely. Yet an intentional search reveals vitality in easily-overlooked details. Naked vines are covered with berries, red as rubies, and oaks have yielded their acorn fruit - treasures for bird and beast in the upcoming winter. Ladybugs begin their long migration to warmer climes and frosty mornings offer beautiful patterns lasting only as long as the dawn. Discoveries like these don’t happen without purposeful searching. How true this is of life too. Finding beauty in seasons that seem unlovely requires much intentionality.
Vision is Often Limited - Sometimes there is so much to take in visually, it is a distraction to the other senses. When nature dresses in neutral tones, a walk in a nearby park awakens my nose to the rich, earthy smell of leaves turning into soil and my ears to the crunch of the now-covered path. I pause to hear the calling of four blue jays, the flutter and scurry of a cardinal and squirrel in the brush, and the hollow knock knock knock of a downy woodpecker on a dying branch. Sounds are clear and I realize life is everywhere as plants surrender their seeds to the earth and all sort of foragers. How much I must miss when I limit my vision to what I can see with my two eyes - how narrow my immediate reality can appear.
There is Beauty in the Dying - There is beauty in the death of everything green. Once fine Queen Anne’s Lace is curled and dry, a delicate sculpture swaying in the breeze. Bright Goldenrod is now pale with downy seeds ready to take flight. New shapes and textures are lovely in silhouette against the fading sky of an early dusk. This annual surrender literally sows seeds of new beginnings. All the letting go of what used to be has the power to bring about the birth of something new and beautiful in its season.
When life seems unlovely, I need to remind myself to search for beauty with intentionality, especially when it feels like surrender and death, and my vision is limited by my current reality. Maybe you can relate? May beauty surprise us in these moments.