Autumn is a signal to plants and animal to start moving inside. Many plants wither and store their essence within their roots. Other plants stand tall but send their sap to their roots for storage and safety. Many animals scurry to find homes within the earth to stay warm, dry and rest. While humans aren’t the only ones to stay active the year round, we have given away our time to move inward, process, and rediscover ourselves.
Transitions of all types help us to move from one thing to another and to grow. Sometimes transitions are celebrated such as when a young one moves from liquid to solid food or when birthdays take us to a new decade. Sometimes transitions are mourned as when a loved one passes, a job is lost or a home is gone. Transitions can be marked by indifference or can be impassioned as in the down-sizing of one’s possessions or the support/non-support of a political candidate. No matter the type of change, everyone experiences them differently and for varying amounts of time.
This year has been a time of transitioning for me. My oldest is no longer a teen. My youngest graduated high school and went off to college. My husband and I celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary. I find myself at a new time in life where I can explore more of my interests, down size my volunteer load and recreate my job description. I was in this place once before; before husband, before kids, before house, before this job. Now I have a few more miles under my belt, more experiences and more knowledge then I did back then. That’s what makes this transition more difficult. How to choose? How will it affect others? Am I too old? Can I do this? I have actually been at a stalemate; unable to move forward because I don’t know what this change will look like. Have you had that experience?
I have been spending a lot of time with the Asteraceae family, especially asters, goldenrod and everlasting. This year there is an abundance of these plants in my garden, far more than I ever planted. They have grown despite the incredible drought New England has experienced this year. I am listening to what they have to say.
The Asteraceae family is all about transitions of all kinds. They grow in abundance in the autumn, nature’s transition to winter. They are some of the last plants providing food for bees and other insects. They provide food for thought for humans. Asters come in many colors. The petals splay out like a child’s drawing of the sun. They give off happy energy and their stalks stand tall and strong. They withstand the temperature ups and downs of this season as well as the heavy rains and windy spells. They are all about endurance and the ability to be flexible and make-it-through. Goldenrod comes in many shapes and sizes but all have the golden blooms that make them recognizable. The flowers are both individual and clustered together. All transitions come in different ways and strengths. Goldenrod shows that there is always support waiting to be recognized and taken. When one’s load is shared, it can make a day seem sunny and brighter. Everlastings are new to me. It is the Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) that has made an appearance in my yard. Nature planted it there. The scent reminds me of fresh hay and pepper. The flowers are made up of over-lapping, white bracts that give them almost a tress look. The flowers all together are beautiful and delicate in appearance. The stem is stiff and strong. When life has major transitions, we may feel delicate. We might even take on that appearance. However, inside of all of us is the ability to stand strong, even if it takes a while to recognize this about ourselves.
Every year, I greet these plants with joy. They are beautiful and I enjoy autumn. This year, the Asteraceaes have taken on a bigger role in my life. They have led me to a place where I can see new opportunities. A new me who is older, willing to learn more and excited about the changes. May you find within your own transitions growth, happiness and a new interest in life.