I Feel the Seasons Changing

Early last week I stepped out on my front porch before the sun was up over the trees of the hedgerow and I felt late summer. The air was cool and dry on my skin and I heard the silence of the morning that seems to come when summer has spent most of her energy and nature is slowing down. I smiled because I welcome this slowing down but it lasted only that one day – then we went into a stretch of the dog-days of August with high heat and humidity.

I’ve noticed that my garden is also starting to take on the late summer look. My attention has shifted from fighting weeds to dead-heading in the hopes that the plants, mainly daisies, will send out some more buds. There is still a lot of color with black-eyed susans, echinacea, zinnias, a few late-blooming day lilies, a bright pink hibiscus, and a few other flowers of various colors sprinkled in. I like what I’m seeing in my garden but I am also thinking about some changes I want to make for next year.

I came across the photo below taken nine years ago and I smiled because I love the goose neck that is featured center front. I believe that was its last year because I realized that it was spreading way to fast and I dug it all out. Well almost – it is still growing in the daisies. And every time I find a plant I think I might let it settle in my garden because I love it so much, and then I remember how fast it takes over – so I pull it out. It will be back next year.

Garden, Early July, 2013

As I look at this photo I realize that the only plant that is still growing (with my consent) in this area is the daisy. The shrubs have been removed, and the cat mint (purple) was transplanted when the stone walls were rebuilt a few years ago. And the lilies are struggling in other places, they just aren’t happy in my garden soil. During the past 14 years my garden has been evolving; and my life seems to be on the same trajectory. Neither me nor my garden are what we used to be.

I know that the aging process involved losses and a lot of change; I developed courses on aging. A life-span development course I developed and taught helped students learn that every phase of life involves some loses that are replaced by new ways of being in our world. Each phase of life has developmental tasks that need to be accomplished in order to be physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy. As we transition from phase to phase some familiar and comfortable ways of being are either taken away or we let go of them. These are frequently treasured privileges, what we have thus far built our identities on. As we approach the end of each phase we need to recognize what we need to give up, what we no longer have, what is no longer useful and then to have the courage to step into an unknown future and learn new ways of thinking and behaving. Have you noticed that what happens to one person in a family or friendship community, impacts the other people, frequently with overlapping demands for developmental change? A fun example to think about is how the developmental tasks of adolescents mesh with the developmental tasks of parents.

Jim and I (and most of our friends) are transitioning into old age. We have retired from paid employment with a mixed bag of sorrows and joys. I miss the status it brought me and the joy of meaningful work that was recognized by colleagues. Jim was overjoyed to leave a job that had become difficult for him to do while maintaining his integrity. He took a part-time job that brought him great joy – can’t wait to get to work joy. He had to leave that so we could spend winters in Florida and travel while spending summers in Michigan. Both of us have been robbed of energy through chronic health issues and normal aging. At core we are struggling to know who we are now that we have moved beyond being productive in our culturally salient way of making money. We both like to help people, but are struggling to know how to help others when we have just about enough energy to take care of ourselves. What seems to have surprised me most is that I am struggling to know how my religious faith can be relevant in my old age. I am in the middle of working through this and will share my doubts, my struggles and new insights in another post.

This link will lead you to an earlier post, from 6 years ago, that is a perfect companion to my thoughts today. https://imissmetoo.me/2016/07/13/memory-of-a-childs-summer/

22 thoughts on “I Feel the Seasons Changing

  1. Hi Pat, your writing and insights comfort and inspire me…heading in to a surgery on Thursday (last timeI was in a hospital was over 50 years ago for tonsils) and working through retirement planning for the end of this year. Challenges and changes ahead! I look forward to reading more of your posts ❤ Christine

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    • Good luck with surgery – I hope healing goes well. I have found that retirement is a major change and my friends and I have found different ways to do it. What I struggled with most was finding a new meaning for my life. Thanks for the nice comment, Christine.

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  2. Beautiful photographs Pat and deep thought narrative. I live in a senior community (Which I never thought I would.) and I love it. We have activities and community. We joke about our aches and pains, what the doctor says and when our children and grandkids visit. I do a bi-monthly article for our monthly newsletter, featuring people in the community with a story to tell. That keeps my mind going, My photography keeps my body moving. Aging is not easy, but easier when you have friends to age with.

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    • It sounds like you have a very satisfying environment. We have something similar in Florida with our condo association. We live in a standard neighborhood in Michigan but have always lived in this smallish town so we have lots of friends here. I agree with your last sentence. 🙂

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  3. No hint of late summer here in London – we have another heatwave and have had no rain for weeks. But it looks like next week will bring changes.
    I get so much from reading your posts about aging. You are, I think, just a little further down that road than I am, but I recognise some of what you talk about in my own life too. I was ready to give up work but I find I miss the structure it gave me, plus a lot of my social life stemmed from working too. And I’m trying to learn to accept that aches and pains are now a normal part of my body, not a temporary challenge! So I seem to be in that late summer place personally, with a hint of cooler days to come and an urge to make the most of the ‘sun’ while it lasts 🙂

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    • It is an ongoing process and I have realized that even though I know what will happen I am never prepared for the grieving or the amount of courage it takes to move forward.

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  4. Isn’t it amazing that when we’re young, we think that we will have it all figured out when we are older? And then we get older and we realize that perhaps life is a long series of figuring things out. I have no doubt that you will. Here’s to being able to enjoy that journey as much as possible.

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  5. Pat, know that you are helping me with all your posts. It seems every time that you voice something I’m feeling. I’ll get back to posting very soon, but I’ve been sidelined after having hip surgery and facing several loses/changes as I try to recover. Lois

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    • Sorry about the hip – but I know you know that you will be better in the long run. I’ve had both knees done and never regretted it. I, too, am helped by your posts – I am going to get rid of more books as soon as we get settled back after having flooring replaced this week. It helps me to know that I am in step with others – kinda like we are holding hands as we cross this street that doesn’t feel really safe.

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  6. Pat, I relate to this so much – your garden analogy helps me a lot. Thank you for verbalizing your active journey through this time of ‘working through’. As to the faith-thing? Dormancy is still a living part of any relationship…(hope I’m not getting too personal). Your late summer garden look is full of a summer of giving…nice.

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