It never ceases to amaze me the transition between seasons and how, momentarily, the two dance together, intertwined, before one departs. 

The dance is beginning now, a slow waltz. The leaves on some trees are turning from green to yellow, signaling summer soon ends. The hummingbirds are swarming feeders, preparing for their long migration. Autumn equinox is approaching, and I know with it will come cool, crisp mornings and relief from extended dog days of summer. Trees will be repainted with vivid crimson reds, oranges and golds. Tree frogs and crickets will fall silent. Their sound will be replaced with the music of the trees as rain falls and wind blows through dying leaves. Autumn also features the song of geese flying high overhead, navigating their way south and stopping by ponds and harvested fields in Southeast Kansas to recharge.

My thoughts will turn from enjoying fresh, crisp apples to sipping hot apple cider, and from eating grilled chicken and fresh garden salads to savoring rich, hearty soups and stews and fresh-baked breads.

I cherish the fact that I live where there are four seasons. Each brings opportunities to more deeply appreciate and enjoy certain things in life that a person doesn’t always appreciate the same at any other time of the year. 

Examples include wrapping cold hands around a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa or warming next to a fire or wood stove on a cold winter day. There is beauty and quiet brought by untouched winter snow and the laughter and joy of children as they build a snowman or sled down a hill. 

Each spring, crocuses and hyacinths first push their bright purple blossoms through the blanket of brown fall leaves. This promises a rebirth of colorful flowers on trees and shrubs and in gardens that were missed in winter’s drab days. The grass begins to green and trees’ naked branches are magically cloaked in botanical splendor. Songbirds share their delight as the sun warms the ground, and the search begins for worms and bugs and materials to build nests.

Then comes summer with its excessive heat that leads to anticipation of jumping into a cold pool, cool creek or lake at the end of the work day, drinking an ice cold beer or lemonade after working outside all day, enjoying a slice of cold watermelon or a dish of sweet ice cream. There are smells of freshly mowed grass and steaks and hamburgers cooking on barbecue grills. There is the incomparable taste of herbs and vegetables picked fresh from the garden. In the night, cicadas, crickets and tree frogs serenade the twinkling lightning bugs that entice children to chase them around the yard.

Fall comes in and sweaters and boots are pulled from chests and closets. The vivid shades of green are replaced again with a bounty of warm colors spread across the treetops. Earthy smells fill the air outside and bonfires, roasted hot dogs and s’mores delight those gathered around after a day’s adventure of hiking on trails, hayrack rides and picking pumpkins.

While I am relishing in little details, I know people will share laments and complaints with every season — it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too rainy, too dreary, I hate, I hate, I hate. I get it. Some days, the sun seems like it could sizzle you as bacon in a cast iron skillet, or the wind is so bitter it slices to the bone. Still, in these very things you can find a deeper appreciation for our many blessings, like air-conditioning inside when outside has a heat index of 115, or blankets to snuggle under on a winter day while you watch a favorite movie. I used to lament such things myself until I began to realize how blessed I am to have, at the very least, all of my senses to appreciate all there is to hear, see, taste, smell and touch around me. Laments and dissatisfaction in our daily life robs us of so much joy and pleasure. In focusing on what something isn’t we miss all it is. Gratitude, on the other hand, brings an abundance of happiness.

So many search outwardly for happiness through many avenues, when the ability to grasp it lies within us all. It is all a matter of perspective and choice as life delivers doses of discomfort, pain or grief. How we experience those things depends on what we are looking for in them and our attitude toward them.

I am thankful for a change of heart and mind that diminishes my disappointments and enhances my appreciation … even for those who complain, for they serve as a reminder to enjoy the waltz of the seasons of nature and life.

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