Seasonal Transitions

I love the transition between summer and autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. A respite from the heat, but not yet miserably cold. A sense of enjoying the sun as the days perceptibly shorten. A slight frisson because there’s an ancestral fear of not surviving the winter. An appreciation of abundance while it lasts. A feeling of being on the brink of an adventure.

This started me thinking of other seasonal transitions.

Autumn to winter is a time to hunker down, muddle through, and try to stay warm. It’s also when you take a deep breath before diving headlong into the exhausting holiday season. It’s a time of conserving your resources. The horizons seem to shrink. My instinct is always to stay closer to home.

Winter to spring! Excitement! Birth! Beginnings! Flowers! Pent up energy just bursting to come out! The end to hibernation! The overuse of exclamation points!!!!!

Spring to summer, for me, is a little fraught. I love the lengthening days. I adore the vacations. It’s nice to have less bulky laundry to do. It feels good to be outside, enjoying all that nature has to offer. But it’s also freakin’ hot. And you have to mow. I don’t do hot and I’m a resentful mower.

Regardless, I am so grateful to be living in a climate of seasons again. You don’t really get spring or autumn in Florida, and I felt their absence keenly. I enjoy marking the passage of time. I love the variety, the anticipation, the change.

Life, man. Nature. It’s incredible.

Seasons

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Exploring Seattle — Part Four

One of the things that charms me most about this area is the abrupt transitions. Each neighborhood has its own style, and when you cross the boundary from one to the other, BAM! You are in it, man, and no apologies.

That was especially true today. I only traveled 3 miles from my front door and I was transported to a completely different world. The change was so sudden it was actually kind of unsettling. But then it fascinated me and filled me with joy.

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I turned the corner into Carkeek Park and was plunged into a dense forest. I half expected to see Hobbits making their way warily through the underbrush. The hills and switchbacks and lush greenery reminded me of vacations I used to take from Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but that was a 7 hour trek. This only took me a few minutes. As I always do in this type of environment, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in ages. There’s something about that combination of moss and rocks and moist underbrush that says home to me. It always has. Maybe I was a snail in another life. Either way, I would never have guessed I was still within city limits if I had been transported here while sleeping.

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And then, even within the park itself, BAM! Another transition. Suddenly I was afforded a fishy smell and a sweeping view of Puget Sound, complete with a driftwood scattered beach. (Florida waterways don’t smell fishy. But I’m getting used to it and attaching it in my mind to beautiful landscapes, just as one does with the smell of cows in farmland after a while. “Fresh country air!” my mother used to say.)

The sign says that baby seals often rest on this beach from July to early September, so I’m going to have to come back and check that out. Today, though, I simply sat on a bench and took in the view while eating a grinder that I had purchased at a local sandwich shop. (Grinders, for the edification of my Southern friends, are what the locals call Subs. I’m starting to learn the lingo.)

As I ate, one by one I was surrounded by ravens. That was kind of creepy. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock. But they merely stared at me, willing me to drop some food on the sidewalk. I didn’t, though. It was too yummy.

After my selfish little meal, I took a walk on some of the hiking trails, and was treated to the sound of a babbling brook with crystal clear water. Yeah, it probably wasn’t as clean as it looked, because it is city runoff after all, but I enjoyed the fantasy. For a little while I forgot there was anyone else for miles.

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Another cool thing about this park is that there’s quirky art scattered near all the parking areas. It makes it fun and adds a sense of humor to the place without really encroaching on the landscape. I love how the citizens incorporate art without invading around here.

I plan to explore this park during the various seasons, because I suspect it will reveal many different personalities to me. I love knowing that this place is just 3 miles away. If I need a getaway and have no money or little time, this will be where I go.

Transitional Periods

The most dangerous times in life are the transitional periods. Like stepping from one slippery rock to another while crossing a rushing river, you have to be careful or you might slip and fall.

These times include changing jobs, moving, going off to college, traveling, preparing to break up with someone, mourning, divorce and experiencing drastic changes in your health. It’s never a good idea to make major decisions during these periods. You’re not in the right frame of mind.

During these stressful times, I try to be gentle with myself, treat myself like I’ve just gone through major surgery. I get very quiet. I rest as much as possible. I try to do things that make me relax. Yoga. Hot baths. Changes of this nature mean your life has basically exploded, so you may want to take time and let the dust settle a bit before making another move.

Baby steps.

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Bridge Symbolism

Having worked on drawbridges for over 12 years, I’ve come to know how strongly many people feel about bridges in general. Just publish your plans to demolish or replace one, and brace yourself for the public outcry. People love to walk and jog across bridges, and many’s the time I’ve witnessed marriage proposals. Fishermen often have their regular spots staked out, and people love to hop out of their cars during bridge openings to enjoy the weather. For some inexplicable reason, the mentally ill are drawn to bridges as well.

Another strange thing about bridges is that people view them as bigger barriers than regular streets, even if they are fixed span bridges with no chance of causing a delay. People will not hesitate to take a 10 minute drive on an interstate which has the same length of road without exits as even the largest of bridges possesses, but if their route contains a bridge, that same 10 minute drive is viewed as a hassle to be avoided.

What do bridges symbolize to people? In the tarot, the bridge card means progress, connections, and stability. Often people view bridges as the only way to reach a destination, and therefore bridges are a way to overcome obstacles. Bridges also represent transitions. “Crossing over” is a euphemism for taking that journey from life to death. Perhaps that’s also why so many people use bridges when they’ve made the unfortunate decision to end their lives, a decision which, speaking from personal observation, is made far more frequently than is reported in the media, and is also a decision which they instantly regret, judging from their screams on the way down. You can be fairly certain that any bridge that you cross that is more than 40 feet above the water has been a place where someone has died.

Perhaps my favorite bridge symbol, though, is that of hope. If you can just get over that bridge, you may find yourself in a better place on the other side. Some bridges are harder to cross than others. If you’re afraid of heights they can be scary. If feeling the surface shaking below your feet unsettles you, then your crossing can pose a challenge, but trust me, that challenge is deceiving. You do NOT want to be on a rigid and inflexible bridge. Not if you want to live. So in some ways bridges can represent a struggle, but one with the prospect of better things on the far shore. I find that inspiring.

If you’re reading this, welcome to my most popular blog entry! The fact that it’s so popular has me flattered and also confused. So I’d love it if you’d tell me why you’re here in the comments below! Thanks!

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A Work in Progress

Whether it’s childbirth, terrible twos, adolescence and puberty, going off to college, marriage, midlife crisis, divorce, job change, relocation, illness, death or some twisted combination of any of the above, transitions are going to happen in your life, and they’re usually stressful. In actual fact, midway through a transition, life generally sucks. I know because I’m right there in the thick of it even as we speak.

The scariest part of a transition is that moment when you have multiple options. If you’re like me, you’ll agonize and second-guess yourself within an inch of your life before finally settling in and adapting to your new circumstances.

We are all works in progress. When I was young I thought there would be this point, some magical moment in the future, when I’d be “done”, and all my problems would be solved, sort of like an existential graduation. With maturity I realize that life tends to be cyclical, and these transitions will come and go. Somehow, though, rather than depressing me, I actually find comfort in this insight. The more rough patches I survive, the more I learn that they’re survivable, and that gives me confidence.

So pardon my dust. I’m under renovation. It’s only temporary. I’m looking forward to being new and improved. I just wish, for the love of GOD, that this current project would hurry up and reach completion.

Life underconstruction.