By M.L. Faunce
Back in the early winter when the happy days of Halloween were but a memory, a plump pumpkin stood all by its lonesome propped on top a tiered wooden stand at Thompson's Farm Stand on Muddy Creek Road. Each morning as I drove to work, I glanced at the pumpkin that was not chosen for the short life of a jack o' lantern but remained to pass through the season as fields turned brown and trees lost leaf.
When Christmas came calling to the farm stand, the pumpkin was soon surrounded by balsam and spruce and pine trees, disappearing as holiday trimmings of rope and wreaths took their rightful place.
Now, as the sun's rays strengthen, hinting of another season, only a Christmas wreath remains at Thompson's, tacked high on the side of an aging barn, testimony to the hectic holiday season we've now all but forgotten.
On Muddy Creek Road today, wind and rain and wet snow fly at the windshield as I drive pell-mell to our Maryland Capitol to a job at the General Assembly that races to its predetermined conclusion in April.
No season, no life is without its transitions. They're the time that prepares us for what comes next and helps heal us from where we have come.
A neighbor who spied my vigorous yard raking on a recent blustery, bitter day thought me impetuous, perhaps, and said as much as I swept the yard clean of those nemesis sweet gum pods some call monkey balls. On cutting back drying Bay grasses to scatter like fronds of Palm Sunday, I liberated seed on which a family of cardinals soon fed contentedly.
We can find purpose as we flush away the debris, our healthy toil liberating us from the doldrums of winter as the Ides of March approach. But finding a nest in the bluebird box gave me pause and made me wonder: Was this intricate mass of grass and fine twigs the hapless result of poor planning by a bird last fall - or a new promise of what lies ahead?
If a new nest, was it a blue bird's that must be protected? Or was it that a scrappy wren, which is less choosy and not at all threatened? As caretaker of the nesting box, I wonder what to do. So it is with affairs of the heart. We are not always certain of the outcome but by necessity make our choices, carrying on.
Transitions are like that, and late winter is full of them. Snow clings to the first blossoms of spring. Dreams overtake regrets. What we lament in winter becomes our second chance in spring. Transitions bring us a new day and a new us.
A Time magazine cover may have said it best back during the turmoil of election season. Framed and hanging on the wall in my computer room, it reads, "Yes, We'll Survive."
Both we and nature will, of course, survive - thanks to transitions and our need to carry on.