There’s one thing about my job that I like above all else. That’s nature’s perks. Each season holds its own wonders…
Spring floods my vision with limitless hues of green, from the fresh sprigs of grass to the vibrant leaves appearing on towering trees mixed with many colorful buds that seem to be shouting, “Come See! I’m blooming!”.
Birds begin their chorus of chirps, animals such as bears and their cubs that had been in a state of *semi-hibernation during the winter begin exploring their surroundings, and freshly planted gardens hint at the bounty that will soon be found within. Fresh and enticing scents are found everywhere. Flowers lining worn country lanes thick with mud from the spring rains emit their intoxicating scents, mountain valleys filled with new growth and lingering shadows beg to be explored, and deep, thick forests offer the promise of solitude far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
*The Black Bears in the southern Appalachian Mountains do not hibernate like their relatives do in other areas.
Summer shares its expansive views of golden wheat fields, landscape dotted with tiny white clumps of Cotton down here in the South, and the shimmering blue waters of beckoning lakes and gurgling streams offer both refreshment and escape from the often times oppressive heat, not to mention the beauty of those elusive tropical getaways.
The days are long and the nights short, affording one the opportunity to spend hours exploring nature’s bounty. Children, free from school for a time, enjoy running, playing, and making up their own adventures… adventures adults can only guess about or perhaps even reminisce about, recalling their own childhood dreams and fantasies.
Autumn, Fall to many of us, holds a special place in my heart. It’s the time of year I prefer to do my exploring, sometimes finding those hidden gems that make me wonder, “how did that get here?” or “what does that lead to?”.
It’s a time for sitting on the porch watching a new day being born, holding close a steaming hot cup of your favorite morning beverage.
The mornings are brisk followed by warm afternoons that entice you to don the wind-breaker and taking a hike on remote trails partially obscured by fallen leaves, or drive along a quite waterway that reflects the beauty of the fall colors lining its banks.
Chilly evenings are tailor-made for sitting beside the campfire or snuggled up in front of the fireplace, perhaps with that very special person in your life.
It’s a time of celebrations and festivals; Halloween with excited children running about in their costumes all excited about trick-or-treating and the candy they’ll score, the fun perhaps tempered with a little fear of that “monster” between them and the neighbor’s front porch, their tiny hands clinching yours while their youthful voices are shakily pleading, “Come with me, I’m scared”.
Fall festivals abound where strangers gather to play games, drink cider, and gaze at hand-made decorations, warming their hands over fires as they talk, joke, and become friends in the process.
Then there’s Thanksgiving. It’s a time for families, a time of expressing thankfulness for those families (and friends) who are constantly there for us, a time to remember all the things we’ve been blessed with (especially for living in this great country, the U.S.A.), share enormous dinners with those closest to us, watch parades and children’s Thanksgiving specials on TV, and root for that favorite pro football team, hoping you’ll win a bet you really shouldn’t have made with your bud at the office or uncle Joe.
Go Cowboys! Oh… sorry… I couldn’t help it. 😉
And that brings us to Winter, a season, for me, of mixed feelings. I love that cold nip in the air as Fall changes to Winter, the chance of a beautiful snowfall that could come at any time, and the expectation of the joyful holiday season just weeks away. I also feel the dread of frigid days that go on seemingly without end, ice storms that create havoc with the power system and rural roads, not to mention the salty brine used by the highway department that works its way into every nook and cranny of my vehicles.
I enjoy the thrill of coming home at the end of the day as I gaze upon the welcoming home, warm and bright with the glow of seasonal lights, the twinkling Christmas tree in the yard that only a few weeks before was “just another tree” to mow around, the beauty of a snowfall as it envelopes the house and the surrounding hillsides, sitting softly upon the branches and fence rails, its soft quietness muffling all sounds as if it was saying, “hush, it’s time to forget about your cares, time to be calm, quiet, and reflect upon the blessing of God’s wondrous creation laid out before you”.
I love winter activities such as snowboarding, going on hay rides, and driving around looking at all the houses beautifully decorated for Christmas. I enjoy shopping at the mall, looking for a “just right” gift for that oh-so-special someone, the glowing faces of children as they tell Santa what they would like for Christmas, or what they would like brother or sister to get for Christmas. I enjoy spending time with family during the holidays, snuggling on the couch near the fireplace while enjoying a classic Christmas special on TV, and gazing out upon the snow-covered mountain sides while enjoying a steaming hot cup of chocolate as the sunset lights up the evening sky with golden hues.
I empathize with those who don’t have families or friends to enjoy the holidays with, the homeless, the veterans who have been shunned by people they thought were their friends because they did their patriotic duty and fought in an unpopular war… the poor who are grateful to have just one hot meal a day, or a few sticks of firewood to heat their meager home… and especially those who have lost loved ones during the holiday season, or who have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease.
I empathize with all these people because at one time or another I have walked in all of these shoes. It is but by the grace of God I have found my way through these situations. I pray these people will find the same comfort, solace, and rescue I have, and I ask that you take a few moments to pray for them also. Give to your local chapter of the Red Cross, a church benevolent ministry, or a humanitarian organization. Volunteer to collect or hand out food for the needy. Help build a house so a family can have a safe place to live away from the elements. Don’t just feel sorry for these people, get out and do something to help.
Yes, this truly is a season of mixed emotions. Thankfully Spring will roll around with its refreshing showers and beautiful sunrises causing all things to be refreshed and beautified once again.