Descending sunlight bounces off the yellow gold leaves of the ash tree in our backyard. Assorted leaf debris and pinecones litter the green grass, lush from recent rain. Today’s early evening sky is clear, cloudless and the temperatures are mild, so I pause from making dinner and enjoy a glass of my favorite chardonnay out on the deck.
I know all too well that these are fleeting moments. This deep sadness I feel despite this glorious weather arrives every year at this time. This melancholy is a type of grief, grief resulting from the predictable change that is coming once again – a change that I am never ready for.
The reality is that shorter days are coming and time outside will become more limited. Impromptu outdoor gatherings with neighbors after work will not happen as often as we enter the winter months. Dinner on the deck after weeding the garden and cutting the grass – gone for another eight months!
Right around the corner is snow blowing, shoveling, scraping car windows, trying to push your grocery cart through the slushy store parking lot, not to mention what happens with the dog…
I chuckle as I think of the ordeal of taking the dog out for a walk once winter comes. Heavy coat and gloves, clipping on metal grippers on the soles of my boots – all this so that I don’t look like an Iditarod participant being pulled down the street by my strong mutt! Life becomes more difficult, more labor intensive and no one around here is getting any younger.
The sound of two Sandhill Cranes startles me back to the present as I watch them fly directly over my head. This pair has settled close to our home and we have named them Jean and Chet after my deceased godparents. When they were alive, just like these birds, they were always together and loved to travel (Jean loved to go to the Platte River on the edge of Nebraska’s Sandhills where the cranes take a break as they travel north in spring).
Another thing my godparents and these long-necked, stork-like birds have in common – they travel(ed) to warmer climates during Wisconsin’s long winters, and become “snowbirds.”
I think these birds have carried a message to me as I grieve the seasonal changes that are coming. I remember Jean and Chet’s attitude about life, and their lifelong ability to “go with the flow.” I hear them remind me, “There is one constant and that is change, adapt and you will continue to enjoy life.”
So, I take this message from beyond as a reminder to live in the moment, to make life the best I can for the time remaining and to enjoy this beautiful fall day. I pour myself another glass of wine, pick up the phone to call my sisters who live in California and Arizona and think to myself…I know a way to not dread the season change. It’s about time I become a “snowbird“!