While driving along one of our beautiful country roads, I noticed how barren the trees looked compared to a month ago. Yet, I didn’t feel down. On the contrary, I felt a certain peace. The tourists were gone along with the hustle and bustle that tourist season brings. It seemed to me that metaphorically, the North Fork breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.
I know many folks escape to warmer climates for the winter; I too am planning a short stay in a warmer climate. But I’m a Northeast gal through and through; I look forward to the changing seasons and I do love winter. I can almost hear your wheels turning: “This gal is off her rocker — what about the snow, ice cold and inconvenience? “ Weird, I know. For me, there is a certain beauty in the starkness of the season.
One of my favorite all-season pastimes is “beach walking.” A beach walk is for excellent for healing what ails you. And folks, the beach is spectacular in the winter. Really! The sun reflecting off the water creates a sparkling diamond effect. One can walk for miles and never meet another soul. For a chatty gal, this is the place where I connect with my deeper spiritual nature.
Life is like the seasons and we’ve all experienced “winter“ sometime in our lives — perhaps you have experienced more “winter” than any other season. We may feel cold and barren. We may be tired and want to hunker down somewhere and wake up when things are better. I get it — been there, done that!
Yet “winter” can be the most important time in one’s life. It’s a time to still the soul and find oneself or create a new self in the midst of turmoil.
Difficult, yes; impossible no! The British novelist Charles L. Morgan writes: “The stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still.” I held this compelling imagery in my mind when I was grappling with the “worst of the worst.” In reality, no winter lasts forever — although it can feel that way or if we allow it.
Spring is a time for rebirth. Little shoots of green push their way through the hard earth. One day we notice the “smell” of spring in the air. The gentle breeze carries a promise of warmth. On the beach I enjoy watching the clouds take shape. I find clam shells: some closed, some open, some half shells — I see struggle in the half shells that are partially buried in the sand.
When we experience the “spring” of our lives, it usually heralds a new beginning. We symbolically cast off our heavy outer garments and wrap ourselves lightly with a cloak of hope. When we have hope, we have everything. A word of caution, however: Hope in the “spring season” can be as fleeting as the weather. The German mathematician Carl Frederick Gauss’ description of spring is inspiring. He writes: “Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant colors.” And don’t we feel this way when we are on the cusp of recovering from the slings and arrows of life’s assaults?
Most everyone loves the summer months and some folks wait all year for summer to arrive. In my book, waiting for summer is a waste of precious life. And when summer arrives, the same folks will complain about the heat and humidity and the cost of running our air conditioners. Nevertheless, summer is a sweet fun season. The earth is ripe with the smell of newly mowed grass. The scent of flowers fills our nostrils like exotic perfume and the sun shines most of the time giving us the right amount of light to raise our feel- good serotonin levels. On the beach, I flirt with the waves and dry off by lying back on the sand, basking in the sun.
When we experience the summer of our lives, we hold on hoping it will never end. We clutch at every moment of happiness, and sometimes our dark neurotic side will kick – in and we wonder when the good times will end — and they do, like everything else. The road of life is not straight; we experience twists and turns, challenging mountains and terrifying forays into deep valleys.
Folks, the world works like this: The tighter we hold on, the less we have. The only way to keep what we have is to be willing to let it go. The beloved author of children’s classics E.B. Web writes in Charlottes Web: “The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful day in the whole year — the days of summer are changing into autumn. The cricket spreads the rumor of sadness and change.”
Autumn is a beautiful time of the year: Leaves are changing from green to brilliant reds and golds reminding us of the impermanence in all things. The slight chill in the air makes some of us want to sit by a warm fire and read a great book. Others like to hike, bike ride and (of course for me) walk on the beach. Donning a sweatshirt, I enjoy the beach even the more (if that is possible) when I am alone again. If I listen carefully, the silence is beautiful.
The autumn season of our lives, is a bitter-sweet time. We intellectually know things are changing and we realize that we have to let it go (whatever the “it” is), but the heart hasn’t quite caught up. Maybe we are in an unhealthy relationship or our body gave us a nasty scare and we find it hard to rid ourselves of the “what if’s.” We may find ourselves living in an “empty nest” when our last kid goes off to college.
Our lives are shifting and if we let life happen, most times the change is for the better. One of my favorite songs by Neil Young is titled “Harvest Moon.” The chorus goes like this: “Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again. Because I’m still in love with you on this harvest moon.” What beautiful imagery! Imagine dancing in the moonlight with sweet abandon. We use our whole body to communicate to the universe our willingness to let go and welcome the new.
If we live in the Northeast our seasons will come and go with our without our consent. With life, it’s a different story: We have control of our “seasons.” We can be stuck in “winter” while wishing for the spring. We can curse the autumn and wish that summer would last forever, but remember, even too much sun burns.
The late and great Frank Sinatra croons: “Life is life the seasons, after winter comes the spring, so I’ll keep this smile awhile and see what tomorrow brings.”
Good advice from Old Blue Eyes, don’t you think
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in ‘retirement’ — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.
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