Ambivalence: Dealing With It, Understanding it is Fear’s First Cousin

2 Sep

I always experience a blend of excitement and sadness this time of year. It feels like each day is suspended on a great curve or a massive arch, and having passed the midway point in yet another season, summer achingly descends toward its inevitable end while fall waits around the corner, giddy with anticipation. For summer, each ever-shortening minute seems to mourn the loss of delicate carefree days, but fall is like a child anticipating the first day of school, bursting with energy and full of endless possibilities. 

I hate to see the flowers go, but I love the spectrum of autumn colors, and savor the thought of shorter days and lengthening nights; its nature’s way of slowing us down, bringing a little work/rest balance to our lives.  When the forest erupts in nearly indescribable color, there’s pep in my step that is missing in the heat of deep summer.  I love the bounce and the crisp air that carries with it a hint of wood burning in distant fire pits and fireplaces.  Still, I miss the elegance of blossoming flowers, the sound of bees congregating over the oregano and thyme, the fragrance of sage and rosemary, lavender, Thai basil and lemon eucalyptus.

my love affair with flowers continues MY STUFF1

Each year the changing of seasons is a bit different from the last.  If it’s been a particularly wet summer, the landscape captures the story of persistent rain beating the ground, distending the earths belly with forced feedings that erode fragile ecosystems, destroy newly fallen seeds, and drown insects and other small creatures.  The bodies of summer are carried by rushing streams of rainwater until snagged by mounds of debris that have collected in nooks and crannies across uneven ground.  These makeshift cemeteries will be their last resting place as they ferment and dissolve back into the earth that bore them.  The initial fragrance of rain intersecting dry earth deepens to a musky scent before succumbing to the eventual stench of decay. 

Even the trees seemingly weep, their branches weary, and bark swollen.  While I celebrate the bounty of water, simultaneously I mourn the loss of my precious flowers as they lay their heads to the ground in absolute surrender.  Manically, I’m up again watching the birds feed on fat worms plucked from sodden grasses, easily satisfying their appetites in a ritual of sustainability and regeneration.  If summer has been cruel, if skies have refused to provide water to the dry pleading soil below, the landscape withers in brittle tales of want and desire.  And the earth splits in spidering cracks and crevices, creating safe havens for insects, invertebrates and small mammals. 

cracked earth 1

The trees on the horizon shrink in rising dust, their parched leaves defeated, and dropping by the handfuls with even a hint of a breeze. And as far as the eye can see, there is a backdrop of scarcity and woe.  Soon we move indoors in search of something more, leaving the earth to endure the scalding heat alone.

Evenings are one of the few rewards we find for having suffered the dog days of summer.  Late afternoon often marks the arrival of migratory birds in search of something to eat or drink,  Their musical voices are soothing and reminiscent of old women haggling in a market place.  By dusk, when fireflies begin to light the hem of the woods, we return to the thick, warm air, languishing in lawn chairs, shooing flies and gnats from the corners of our mouths as we talk about the weather, or dream aloud of cooler days to come.

I match each season to the cadence of my own life.  On the cusp of fall, I find myself finishing projects I began in the spring and nurtured all summer long, and compiling list after list of things that must be done in preparation for the cold, dark void of winter that is building just around the corner. 

I’m plucking the dry heads off daisies, sunflowers and Echinacea and scattering their seeds throughout my gardens.  I’m preparing a list of bushes and tree limbs to prune in late October.  I’m harvesting and drying herbs to use in the cold months when their roots are resting beneath ice or snow.  I’m starting construction on small Halloween gifts for the children on my street who delight me year after year with their eager faces squealing “Trick or Treat!”

MY STUFF 2 halloween door

I’m a little early with what I call my Annual Fall Clean-Out, the time set aside to sort through everything I’ve collected or saved since early spring. I’m editing the clutter.  If I don’t, everything I own suddenly owns me, and I become a slave to their upkeep.  I’m getting too old for heavy cleaning and shuffling stuff from place to place anymore, so I’m downsizing in my own way.  I admit to the absurdity and obvious conflict of being both a serial cleaner and one tittering on the abysmal brink of hoarding, and confess that I run myself wild saving for what may or may not ever happen, while throwing away what isn’t actually needed.  I understand that I am my own particular disease just as much as I am its own particular cure.

bandaide on heart

Today is September 2nd.  Outside, if feels as if summer is still with us, but our calendar is filling with autumn activities.  Soon the leaves will turn and begin to fall, and I will pile them on top of all my flower beds to insulate against the bitter cold that lies ahead.  Summer was slow starting for us this year, and already the night temperatures are dipping into the 60’s.  I remember standing on our deck on the fourth of July and telling my husband that winter would arrive soon.

“Sooner than we’ll be ready for it, I fear,” he said.

Time passes so quickly these days.  It seems we are always looking over our shoulders toward yesterday, yesterday when the babies were born and life was joyfully packed with activity and pseudo-drama.  Yesterday, when everyone we loved was still alive, still laughing or causing grief.  Yesterday, when tomorrow seemed a million years away.  But I’ve no time for ambivalent thoughts today.  My sister telephoned; she and her husband and my brother and Mom are coming for a visit at the end of the month.  I have so much to do before they arrive…and there is so much to look forward to, so many busy pleasures and rich experiences for Rich and I to explore before the bone cold winter hand knocks at our front door and whispers our names.

old couple in love 1





13 Responses to “Ambivalence: Dealing With It, Understanding it is Fear’s First Cousin”

  1. 2ndhalfolife September 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Lovely piece~ and so true! xxoo

    • ittymac September 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Thank you for your continued support… it means a lot to me.

  2. ittymac September 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks to Writings of a Mrs for your support! And thank you to Lost Taurus who always reads and likes her mama’s blogs!

  3. Archita September 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Here , it still feels like summer, but the flowers and trees are already getting ready to welcome the autumn..Beautiful article . 🙂

    • ittymac September 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      It’s a beautiful time of year… Again, thank you for your faithful support.

  4. Claudia Anderson September 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I think I may choose to ….mmmm…not disagree with your title…..but take a different approach. You do not sound “ambivalent” — on the contrary, you sound the opposite. Sure. Certain. Your words wrap around true feelings of love and astonishment and appreciation for the changing seasons, the coming of yet another chapter of life (this one called Fall), and your excitement about your family arriving:

    I have so much to do before they arrive…and there is so much to look forward to, so many busy pleasures and rich experiences for Rich and I to explore …

    On the contrary, my dear friend, you are ready, willing, and able for the magic of the future!

    • ittymac September 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      😊 Thank you, my friend.

  5. theempathyqueen September 9, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Pure poetry and autumn images indelibly pressed for reading.

    • ittymac September 9, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      You are so kind. I cherish the bonds that grow between us across the miles. I’ve made many friends in this medium, but none more endearing and special than you and Claudia Anderson at Humoring the goddess. When I began blogging I expected to find a creative outlet; in reality, I’ve found so very much more.

      • Claudia Anderson September 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

        And we have found a creative muse sister in you!!

      • ittymac September 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

        I’m feeling the kinship of kindred souls. 😊

  6. theempathyqueen August 10, 2016 at 5:11 am #

    Dear B ~ I just re-read this on my early morning computer stroll ~ Your writing is so lush and visceral. You are the best kind of writer; you create a vision that envelops the reader into your emotions and perceptions. Just gorgeous!

    • ittymac August 10, 2016 at 9:12 am #

      Why thank you. Sincerely.

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