Since early May I have been visiting the mountain near my Vermont home observing its transition from winter hibernation to spring awakening. It’s encouraged me to embrace a new season of my life.
It started early one morning when I awoke full of fear over a looming major life change. It is time for the next season of my life, yet the unknown presented itself less as an opportunity with adventure and more as a leap into an abyss. I knew there was only one spot guaranteed to settle my mind. It is to the mountain I went to wander the miles of trails in walking meditation.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir
On a cloudy, but warm, early-May day with my backpack and walking stick, I found myself ascending an old mountain road which soon narrowed to a trail. Even the swarm of bugs pursuing me as I trekked up the path couldn’t crush the growing feeling of peace overlaying my anxiety with each step away from civilization and deeper into the healing and nurturing embrace of the natural world. There are no politics on the mountain, no financial worries, no relationship issues—only the profound spiritual presence of being in nature.
The mountain itself was going through a seasonal transformation. Spring unfolds slowly up there. With a quick glance, one might think it was late autumn. The air was filled with the scent of the moist decay of dead leaves blanketing the ground, and the trees still exposed themselves. But if one looked closer, the mountain offered signs of its awakening from its winter hibernation—tiny bumps of green on the trees, the bright green leaves of young skunk cabbage growing by the streams, ferns poking curved fingers through the brown of last year’s decaying ground cover, and scattered islands of purple trillium and yellow trout lily stands.
The many small vernal streams flowing down the mountainside with their tiny waterfalls captivated me. In the heat of summer, most of these will dry up or they’ll be barely discernible trickles. But on that early spring day, they added a sense of motion and sound to the mountain as the life stirred within it and on it, preparing for the inevitable verdant eruption that would robe the trees and cover the ground.
On following visits to the mountain I observed as the seasonal transition gained momentum. The slow stirrings of early May became a burst of life by the end of the month into early June. The dog trout lily flowered and had its season, but trillium hung on a spell longer in the higher elevation. Joining it now are woodland violets, bluets, corn lilies, smooth Solomon’s seal, the delicate flowers of the broadleaf maple, and the lush covering of ferns. Above me, the trees formed a leafy tunnel of vibrant green—a hue so magical and bright it almost glows. I could not resist their invitation to hike the paths they shade.
The birds, along with the vernal streams, added to the mountain’s song of life. The ovenbird’s “teacher-TEAcher” song greeted me as I lunched in a favorite spot. A scarlet tanager interjected its tune, a woodpecker provided a soft background beat, and in the distance, a sneaky blue jay covered a hawk’s call.
By early June, all around me the forest was awake, alive, pulsating with life, joyful in just being.
However, not all changes come slowly to the mountain. Sometimes they are abrupt, unexpected, and leave a lasting scar. On one of my visits, as I walked the forest trails on one side of the mountain, a landslide occurred on the other, the mountain sloughing a part of itself off into the river below.
Nature doesn’t worry about what it’s capable of doing or whether it’s appropriate. It does not discriminate. Nature does what it was meant to do—it creates, it destroys, it releases without fear of judgment. The natural world continues on, adapting to the changes around it.
“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” ~Nikki Giovanni
Nothing can stop the change of seasons. The transitions may be subtle at times, but they are inevitable. Our lives, too, are always transitioning. Sometimes it is at a slow, almost imperceptible pace, but then we suddenly realize we’ve stepped over a threshold into another chapter of our lives and there is no turning back. There is no path behind us except in our memories. The only way for us to grow is forward.
“When you are transitioning to a new season of life, the people and situations that no longer fit you will fall away.” ~Mandy Hale
Other times, the changes we face are more like upheavals (or landslides) forcing us to shed what is no longer serving us. The part of us we lose may leave a scar, but as we continue on and nurture the parts of us that remain, we adapt and grow beyond what we’ve lost.
And, more specifically in our creative life, there are periods where to the outside observer there may not be much to look at, but within the imagination, there is pent-up potential underneath the surface preparing to burst forth. Even to the creative it may not be obvious, but there are clues of what’s to come—tiny buds of possibility on otherwise bare branches, fresh shoots of artistic growth popping up, their appearance signaling the explosion of an inspired energy on the cusp of bursting forth.
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” ~Henri Bergson
Observing the mountain’s transformation has been a gift with lessons in shifting, accepting, and synching with the inevitable changes that come with living our lives and moving forward into our potential, no matter what season of our lives we may be entering.
To live is to grow, and to grow is to change.
Like the mountain, embrace the beauty and potential of whatever season of life you’re in.