The Seasons of Our Lives

Aaahhhhh…You can almost hear the collective exhale as we make our way through September.  The hectic days of late August are behind us, and we are settling into new routines at work, school, in the garden, and at home.  There is a welcome relief that comes along with the end of production and the beginning of rebirth.  A new season has begun! And with it, the headiness of autumn.  In my experience, autumn is a time for big thoughts and formative realizations.  We are instinctually preparing our bodies for the long stretch of winter where–traditionally–we would be spending our time with our thoughts, our food, our families and our fire.  Might as well start the whole hibernation mode with a clear brain–but first to sift through everything that has been brushed aside during the action packed summer!

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Shadows of ourselves. September affords beautiful “golden hours” and a lot of shadow fun! This rural girl finds that concrete has some perks…

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New life meets newer life.

There are many rhythms of the natural world that govern how we operate–seasonal rhythms and circadian rhythms being the ones we are most familiar with.  The thing about rhythms though…is the time between beats (however fleeting it might be).  The time between is what makes for a steady beat.  Furthermore–we can’t forget the rests.  Every good musician will tell you that the rests in music are just as important as the notes.  In literature, the “in-between” times are called “liminal space.” These are times when big realizations often occur, likely because characters have the most time to actually deal with their thoughts, motivations and experiences.  The same goes for us in our real lives, but we humans (for the most part) have problems with liminal space.  We have a notoriously hard time being unproductive and just being.

Dogs and babies set good examples.

Dogs and babies set good examples.

I have heard from many folks over the last few weeks that life has been hard.  Late August and its ramifications is notoriously difficult.  I’ve been part of tearful phone conversations; long, exasperated text chains; and in person disclosures that have revealed how I had been feeling, too: burnt out, identity-less, running in place.  Luckily, it’s time to take pause, to revel in the “in-between.”  But this is only possible if we let ourselves have the time between the seasons of our lives.  We often try to run away from that feeling of emptiness….we attempt to fill it with something else at the risk of missing an opportunity for growth.

Since my last post about freezing food...our fridge/freezer broke! Argh! So I've started to ferment some food. Another good lesson in the "in-between" time.  Sometimes we just need to sit and wait for ideal results.

Since my last post about freezing food…our fridge/freezer broke! Argh! So I’ve started to ferment some food. Another good lesson in the “in-between” time. Sometimes we just need to sit and wait for ideal results.

As a species, we are very focused on productivity.  Often, our whole identity is wrapped up in what we do for a living and how we label ourselves.  Is there anything wrong with that? Some would argue yes, others say it is inevitable–a part of the human condition.  I say, it is what it is, but if we can’t be alone with ourselves and only ourselves we’re in for a lot of distress, heartache and delayed soul-searching.  The time between “the seasons of our lives” can be incredibly empowering, formative and enlightening…if we let it be.

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Ava is becoming such a “big girl”–her newest season. Here she becomes an official Jr. Ranger for the Chugach National Forest Service.

I am personally in the proverbial trenches of one of the seasons of my life–that as a mother of very young children.  Of course, among that season there are many smaller rhythms: Ava has started “school,” Opal is a professional crawler and soon to be walker, the question of more children and if/when they will come always looms in the distance, beyond that I’m constantly thinking about my (lack of) professional life and what that means for my experience as a human.

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Opal gets to tag along for Ava’s “nature school.” She is the queen of the forest.

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Two year olds search for spiders in the best classroom at “nature school” (as Ava calls it).

Others in my life are experiencing “seasonal shifts” like moving jobs, settling in to being grandparents, moving great distances, dealing with rough marriages and buying first homes.  Some of my much younger friends are becoming teenagers and young adults.  Some of my much older friends are coming to terms with fact that their seasons have slowed down and are coming to an end. All of these, and many more, come with at least a brief point of “in-between”.  What do we do with that time?  Do we call everyone we know hoping for an easy distraction from how it affects us?  Do we embark on a new hobby or project? or do we sit and write? or call upon the person we know can help us navigate the space between one point in life and the next?  All of these (and obviously many more) are valid options, but I think we often avoid the contemplative options in the hopes of filling the space with something comfortable.  Sometimes being uncomfortable is the most important thing we can do!  We are fortunate to experience myriad emotions, let’s feel them while we can!

My dad is settling nicely into his role as a grand father!

My dad is settling nicely into his role as a grand father!

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Some of the last heads of lettuce for the 2016 season! A small example of the beautiful produce from a very productive summer.

Have I ever disclosed that writing blog posts sometimes feels like a confessional? The writing process has a way of unleashing our innermost thoughts, apprehensions, joys and opinions.  As of late, life has been very busy but mostly great!  I have needed an outlet, and my outlet is writing.  I write this as Ava is growl-screaming at Opal for playing with her blocks (“If you don’t want Opal to play with your toys play where she can’t get them! Otherwise, find a way to play together!” Deep breaths…Deep breaths…).  Opal is covered in egg yolk from breakfast and has the hiccups.  The low lying morning sun of fall is spilling through the window and really illuminating the gooeyness of the egg.  Moki the dog is hovering waiting for Opal’s breakfast trail to take form.  Life is hectic for the most part, I don’t get nearly enough sleep as Opal has started to wake frequently (yelling “mama mama mama MAMA!” How could I not respond to that?), but it is all good.  The summer is ending (has ended?) and the fields at the farm are quickly getting turned under to rest until next season.  It’s brussels sprouts season!  One of my favorites…No better time to sit with one’s thoughts than while methodically plucking brussels sprouts from the stalk.

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Yum Yum Yum. Pluck pluck pluck. Ponder ponder ponder.

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This girl loves her soil…and brussels sprouts.

So, with this fairly ethereal post, I hope I leave you with some inspiration to Be.  Be with yourself or a special person in your life.  Be with your emotions and experiences.  Let yourself start to transform if it’s been a long time coming.  Be with your ripening winter squash or get lost in grooming your dog that is shedding her summer coat, be with your view of your child walking off to the school bus and the bus pulling away, or be with the low slung afternoon sun as it illuminates leaves falling to the earth.  Let’s try to embrace these seasons of our lives whether we are “in the trenches” or resting on an island between shifts.

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I was fortunate enough to embark on a hiking adventure (sans babies!) with these two beauties. We are all in very different stages of our lives despite similar ages and life experiences. Yet we can come together to enjoy the outdoors, share ideas, laugh and play in this autumnal playground. Yay for awesome woman friends.

Sending you peace, love and an equilibrium-inducing equinox!

Until next time,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

 

Leave a comment 7 Comments

  1. Krista says:

    Nice post, Alex. This is the perfect time for me to sit, relax, and reflect on the moments. Bringing summer to an end and starting up fall is a great time to let go of some stress, especially before the crazy of the soon to be here holidays hits. I will make sure to spend extra time with the special people in my life and share many emotions and experiences.

  2. Denise Ross says:

    Well written post, Alex. You’re so right that we find it so hard to just be still and just be, soaking in,life and living through all the emotions, Changes, rather than constantly filling our lives with doing. I’m learning to slow when I need to and just stop and be. If only for short periods of time. It’s is so good for the soul, clearing for the emotions and mind and for overall health.
    Love your pictures and life stories.
    Take care
    Denise
    Australia

  3. Susabelle says:

    I look forward to winter because it is my “quiet time.” I’m a type-A, to-do list achiever. I count things. 24 pints of strawberry jam canned! 8 pounds of summer squash picked! 20 hours of extra paid work completed this week! Only 3 loads of laundry!

    One would think I am too busy to think, or to contemplate, or to ponder. They would be wrong. When I garden, where is my brain? On other things. Thinking, pondering. When I work on crocheting a new rug, or cutting up peaches for a pie, folding mountains of towels and underwear, where is my brain? On other things.

    It’s the ultimate in multi-tasking. And some would say I work too hard, I do too much, but the truth is, I feel awful when I don’t finish to-do lists or accomplish goals. There is a lot of anxiety in not finishing, and that is worse than being ultra-busy. In my world, anyway. I wouldn’t change a thing. I really wouldn’t.

  4. denise says:

    enjoyed reading your post. I want to go sit and relax now, and I will make a point of doing just that very soon. your kids are so cute!

  5. Marilyn says:

    Fall is a time to relax and appreciate the season with its beautiful colors,crisp ,cool air and cozy nights.
    Marilyn

  6. Karen Pennebaker says:

    Don’t worry about a “professional life” when your babies are growing up! I always figured my babies WERE my life at that point. My “babies” are now 56, 51 and 43 years old and THEIR babies are mostly grown up! I will never regret the time I spent with all of them! I homeschool my 11 year old grandson and the other day, I took him along to my art guild meeting. We were working with “gelli prints”. He had a fantastic bunch of art teachers that day and ended up producing some amazing things, right along with those of us who have been artists for decades. When his sisters were younger, they went along with me to learn how to weave chair seats and we wove quite a few on 100 year old chairs owned by the local recreation center. Right now, we are off to the local historical society meeting, where he is the youngest active member. Children can be part of “real life” and get an education at the same time! Those of us who are learning right along with them don’t notice how old we are!

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