The following was written by contributor Robin Zipporah.
These are narcissus bulbs, just waiting for a dry day to be buried in our flower bed.
They were a gift from another family, dug out of their garden in early summer, when the dad was thinning his flower beds and the world was vibrant with blossoms and thrumming with bees and humming birds and sparkling with radiant sun.
As I type this, it’s been raining for days here in Maryland. Right now, the air is damp and dusk is racing us home each night. Our friends’ summer garden, where we thanked them for excess bulbs and snacked on blueberries straight from the bushes, feels terribly distant.
When my second child was two last year, she was made absolutely distraught by autumn’s arrival and Mother Nature’s decision to close up shop like just another community pool or boardwalk ice cream stand. She didn’t like the disappearance of the fireflies, then of the long evenings, then of sun warm enough to play without a jacket, and with the onset of winter, that final disappearing act: all the world’s color left us.
She was too young to remember that spring always follows winter and color and blossoms and grass and sunshine and sprinklers and ice pops all would emerge again, like a bejeweled butterfly after a long cocoon’s sleep. She didn’t understand, and all of our reassurances could be based only on faith, not evidence.
On the Etsy blog, dad Caleb Gardner recently wrote about the beauty of the season that signifies an end, and of sharing that with his young son, of teaching him that endings also mean renewal. That’s what I’m setting out to show our girl this year. She’s now three and has a faint memory of the spring that was and the summer day in which we plucked our friends’ berries and received this gift, a promise of future beauty.
This weekend, I’m hoping that she and I will kneel in the dirt, feel its loamy hope in our fingers, and dig deep enough to bury these humble treasures. These bulbs don’t look like much now, dull and brown, but across a coming winter that may seem colorless they’ll be preparing to burst forth for us, golden and confident.
I’m also hoping that when the side of our house waves a little field of golden trumpets at us next spring, my sweet, doubting girl will be able to look back to the day that she and I dug holes through the mulch, just like she now recalls the day her fingers stained purple from fruit. I hope she’ll understand better that although autumn signals the end of summer, it also heralds winter, which wipes us all clean for fresh renewal and luminous blossoms. I hope she’ll understand better the cycle of the seasons, the thrill of a long-held promise, and that the best things come to those who wait.
And then I hope she’ll help me plan our summer garden, the one we’ll stuff with vegetables and sunflowers, the one she’ll offer to water via sprinkler just as an excuse to grab a bathing suit.
She’ll see that time can be trusted, that rhythms steady us, and that the world she loves all hot and bright always reasserts itself. And as she discovers those facts, I’ll watch from the periphery of our yard, maybe weeding a flower bed, and marvel with these swiftly fleeting seasons how quickly she’s growing.
What do you do with your kids to mark the change of seasons?