Seasons Change

DSC04398In a memory so clear I can practically taste the dust I kicked up, inhale the sweet scent of cottonwood pollen, and feel the heat of the packed earth—and the occasional sharp bite of gravel—against the winter-tender soles of my feet, a moment from a school day over thirty years ago has always stayed with me.

I was in grade five, the final bell had rung and we’d been dismissed. I’d been held back after class for something, however, and by the time I was outside (feeling hard done by and blue) and ready to walk home, there wasn’t another kid in sight. It had been cold and wet when I left for school that morning, so I was wearing boots and a heavy jacket—but it was late March or early April, meaning the weather could go from snow to beach-ready seemingly overnight, or in this case, over the seven or so hours I’d been inside. As I left the school grounds and started my trek past the then neglected, vacant lots, something pulled me from my sadness: the realization that it was warm.

I peeled off my coat. Stopped to admire dandelions. Noticed buds on a bush that had been tightly closed earlier now revealed tiny green leaves. The birds were noisy. The air was delicious. My feet sweated. I considered the well-worn dirt path snaking through the unkempt bright green grass and made a decision. Tying my coat sleeves around my waist, I bent down, tugged off my boots, ripped off my socks and stuffed them inside said boots. Then gripping my footwear in one hand, feeling weirdly proud, I walked the rest of the way home barefoot, sure that each passing car was envious of me and my unconfined toes.

That evening, when my mom asked how my day was, I answered, “Great.” And I wasn’t lying or forgetting. It had just . . . changed.

Over the years, that memory, so tiny and seemingly insignificant, grew to have . . . significance. It was, in my young brain, vivid evidence that moods and circumstances—and nature/life itself—changes. Of course, in terms of what life would throw at me, what I’d go on to endure, a bad day in elementary school was a walk in the park, but it remained a tangible encouragement, regardless.

For almost as far back as I can remember, I’ve been deeply affected by the seasons. I’m at my height of happiness and peace (I bloom so to speak!) in the hottest heat of summer. I turn to inward things, literally and metaphorically, in autumn as everything around us dies or settles into dormancy. While I’m not unappreciative of the beauty of snow and ice, winter is my hardest season. I feel a bit frozen too, and if I’m going to have gloomy thoughts, they’ll hit hardest in November and then again in January and February.

Spring, however, ahhh—although not my favourite season (because remember summer, guys, summer!)—always feels like a gift because it reminds me of deep truths I intuited all those years ago walking home from school: Hard times (winters) eventually end and easier times come again. Things that appear dead can rejuvenate, come back to life, bigger, stronger, and more resilient than ever. Root systems, the supports for growth and health, are often invisible, yet they exist.

There have been times in my life—and unfortunately, there will be more, I’m sure—when it seems like a particularly difficult season (grief, heartbreak, loneliness, financial hardship, a crisis of faith, you name it . . .) will never end. Yet just like spring always eventually comes, those heavy, hard to deal with things inevitably lighten.

Spending time in nature (throughout the year and every kind of weather) helps me take heart and remember: seasons change and so do we.

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“Seasons Change” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, April 27, 2016 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.” It’s part of a theme I’m exploring this year–“Things I want my children (and future grandchildren) to know”–and feels very apropos as I’ve been spending every minute I can outside in my garden, watching things grow. 🙂 Missed the first three? Find them here:

1) What do you know? (Jan. 2016)
2) Kindness Matters (Feb. 2016)
3) Beauty in the details (Mar. 2016)