Garden centers are starting to put out huge displays of Chrysanthemum plants. The colors – orange, yellow, maroon, pink, purple – are a reminder summer is nearly over, or fall is about to start – depending on how you look at the world.
I used to be in the “summer is nearly over” camp, so I dreaded seeing the mums with their sturdy appearance and earthy, pungent scent. (It also doesn’t help that the home shopping networks start selling Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas décor in July.) But at the end of August the perennial plants in my yard might as well be wearing tiny signs that say “stop deadheading me so I can go to sleep!” And the annuals are ready to go to flower Heaven.
So, each year after finally accepting summer was ending, if I wanted color in the yard, it was mum time. In late September I’d buy the thirsty stragglers from local nurseries. And eventually I’d grudgingly admire the perfectly formed buds and flowers, the bright colors, and even that earthy scent. I also cut stems to put in vases around the house (as with any other flower, mums last a long time if you remove any leaves below the water line and change the water every day). But they still always reminded me summer was over and we were heading into another New England winter.
But now, instead of dreading the March of the Mums, my reaction is, “Oh, the mums are out. Fall is coming. Let’s buy some.”
I’m figuring out why.
As a bossy eldest child who has lived a mostly charmed life, I knew if you, your parents, your circle did the right things, made the right phone calls, enlisted enough people, prayed hard enough, you could bend the universe to your will for yourself, your family, your friends.
But as I get older, it’s clear no matter how hard I try, some things cannot be fixed or stopped. Seasons will change. We can’t always pray away illness. We can only tell Death to take a hike so many times. What we can change is how we react. You might have known this for a long time; I’m a few years behind you.
It’s a hard lesson, but it is helping me not want to eat my weight in chocolate when life goes wrong. It’s helping me be more open to the grace you can find in acceptance, and even more grateful for the support of family and friends. Of course I’ll keep demanding the universe do exactly what I want. But I know it won’t always happen. And eventually I’ll accept what is, and keep going.
So as summer turns into fall I’m happy to wander the local nurseries now to see who has the best prices for multiple pots, and to bring the bright colors and scent into the house. Now if I could just get someone else to plant them…
P.S. While we’re talking about changing seasons, hope you enjoy this song, adapted from Ecclesiastes