Fullness & Gratitude

Simple seasonal wreath on my front door (I hate that security sticker!!).

I have been in California now a full three months, followed by a full three weeks back East, and they have all been full indeed.  Full of beauty, full of activity, full of family, full of friends—old, new, and rediscovered—full of plans and aspirations.   I am in a season of fullness, and it seems apropos (and probably egocentric to boot) that this surfeit season in my own life parallels a terrestrial time for harvest and bounty. A time to squint your eyes so the fullness of life comes into clear focus without distracting fears, disappointments, and stresses to mar the picture.  This time is signaled by the prosaic cornucopia motifs that appear in the paper goods aisle at CVS, an increase in anxiolytics prescribed in anticipation of family gatherings, and Black Friday super sales.  More primordially, though, it is signaled by an 80-foot Ginko scattering gold across the damp landscape, by plump cones that form on burnt Taxodium branches, and by the evening light becoming whiter and more remote each evening as the days foreshorten.

It turns out that this zeitgeist takes the shape of many an abstracted ritual, like plastic garlands trimming hospital entries just after Halloween (!! I hate that!!), and an increase in Walmart commercials for Layaway offerings.   Nature punctuates this time with her own rituals: Autumn crocus emerging from drifts of maple leaves, rusty Parthenocissus dropping to join the Maple scatter, and buds emerging on naked Edgeworthia and Corylopsis.  I get to participate in small, simple gestures that have been performed through the ages:  I cut Nandina berries, Fatsia blooms, Cornus sericea, and Cedar to dress my warm home with a few simple, seasonal arrangements…and I feel human.  A ruffley Camellia bloom sits solitaire in my Grandmother’s small silver pitcher…and I remember Thanksgivings spent with her. And so gardening gives me the fullness of the season and tells me it’s a time to celebrate gifts—categorically.  It’s a time that makes me pensive and expansive at once. Glass half full?  Indeed, most definitely…absolutely.  I will roll in this fullness unabated.  There will be plenty of other days when life’s fullness isn’t the guest of honor at my table.

Ginko bilboa on Clifton Rd. in Atlanta, GA.  Photo courtesy of horticulturist Erica Glasener


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