Thursday, March 24, 2011

There is a season

Ibis on the Rainbow River

Earlier this month, on a trip to Florida, I was reminded that seasons in fact do occur everywhere, but not at the same time or with the same vigor.  That holds true for nature as well as for life’s seasons. 
azalea - Inverness, Florida
azalea - Inverness, Florida
red bud tree, Cedar Key, Florida
In early March, in rural Florida, many of the spring blooms have already come and gone, with a few azaleas remaining and lots of white dogwood and red bud trees in full bloom.  Azaleas  bloom in Northern Virginia in early May when home is just a glorious place to be.  How fortunate I am to have seen them once and to know they are coming again soon.
Cedar Key, Florida
There is no good season for a curmudgeon! 
Enormous alligator on the Withlacoochee River
Life’s seasons come and go, sometimes mild and others stormy and full of sadness or peppered with bolts of lightening. Two friends, both beautiful daughters, lost parents who hadn’t seen quite enough seasons and will be greatly missed.  A Florida relative is facing invasive breast cancer.  Friends are ending difficult marriages and others struggle with unemployment.  On a more positive note, blessings abound - from finding employment to births and recoveries.
Sandhill cranes
Paynes Prairie Preserve, Florida (a flock of sandhill cranes is barely visible in the grass)
Cedar Key, Florida
My own season of unemployment is ending temporarily as I take on a three-month full-time assignment, the most consistent work I have had in two years.  I am very grateful for this spring surprise and am hopeful it is an indication of more to come.
Cear Key, Florida
A real town in Florida where they grow...
...potatoes.  Spuds, Florida
Now is a beautiful time in Northern Virginia.  Daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs are bursting and many of the trees have begun flowering.  
I am reminded of Pete Seeger’s song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” written in the 60’s using The Bible’s powerful words from Ecclesiastes 3.  I loved that song, performed by many but most notably by Judy Collins, Seeger himself and The Byrds.  Ignorant that I was, I remember hearing the minister read it in church and wondering why he changed the words to the song.
A blue heron shows his annoyance by shaking his backside
Blue heron (on post) waits for a handout on the Rainbow River
Enjoy this season and may these words from Ecclesiastes serve as a special gift with extra meaning just for you.           

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This week my three evergreen bonsai were removed from their winter home, inside the wire enclosure in a large garden planter box, where they spent three months covered in leaves and bark mulch.  There they were protected from the extreme cold, rodents and small creatures, and the dangerous, drying wind.  They emerged unscathed and have been adjusting to the climate change atop a bench on the deck, ready to begin their spring growth spurts.
Just as the bonsai have been awakened, so have the spring bulbs whose greens are beginning their journey above ground.  Hyacinths are poking their beady cylinders toward the sunshine.  Daffodils are several inches above ground-level, buds starting to emerge and thinking about flowering in a few weeks.  The little crocus, like pixies playing in the grass, are popping up all over the front yard.  The tulips, in the sunniest places along my morning dog walk path, will soon be showing off their brilliant yellows and oranges.
Talk of the peak blooming time for our glorious cherry blossom trees, thriving along the Tidal Basin and in parks in and around Washington, is picking up.  National Cherry Blossom Festival events and lots of tourists mark the annual celebration at the end of the month.
In short, it is a time of awakening, and readying for the glory to come.  Isn't that just like the Easter season!  
This is my third March as an unemployed/underemployed person.  I have continued part-time consulting work that is both interesting and fulfilling, but fails to be lucrative enough to be sustaining for the long haul.   I rejoice that I have work, and that there seem to be continued opportunities for future full- and part-time employment.  Proper identification as the perfect candidate is the obvious next step.
This week I was hit by a lightening bolt realization that, while overly focused more on what I have not had, I have always had enough to piece together work and keep afloat.  Minimal work, bits here and there, help from family and friends, and truly divine intervention, have collectively given me what I really need.  My spring awakening was realizing that.  I have had enough to make several trips to see my elderly Mom, pay my bills, spend time with my amazing sons, take a few trips, establish a consulting business, pay for a crown and other dental and medical bills, replace my heating and air conditioning system, accept interesting small jobs to bring in a little extra cash, buy only what I need, take a few courses for my consulting work, allocate more time for friends, and take advantage of the numerous free opportunities in the Washington area.  I haven't suffered. Realizing I could get by for a while longer, I relaxed a little bit and concentrated on doing my best in the work available to me and ensuring that full-time employment remained my objective. 
Each time life has taken a downturn, something good has come along to sooth the financial or emotional pain, and I have been sustained.  A miracle?  Not exactly, but a true example of God's provision and loving care.
I am much crabbier than I used to be when I hear people whining that they can’t afford this or that frivolous expense, or when they fail to impose a little deprivation on themselves to help someone else.   My friends and family have been plenty generous to me, and for that I will always be grateful.  Perhaps because I know how much it means, I now jump at the opportunity to help someone in need.  It feels really good.  
I don't think I will be as self-absorbed and wasteful again. I have awakened, but I am still on the edge of financial disaster.  The difference is that now I know that material possessions just aren’t that important.  What is?  That I recognize the incredible gifts life, friends and family are, and that I focus on things positive and remain grateful for what I do have.  Maybe that is what this very long (and continuing) lesson has been all about.
I am looking forward to my first visit to see the cherry blossoms awakening.   I remain hopeful that my personal one will be followed by work!  Now that I have learned my lesson, the time is ripe for a full-time job with benefits!
Happy Spring!