Year after year, one season blends into another, beginning another chapter in our lives. That which once blossomed in the glory of the summer sun becomes seeds we plant for the future with the hope that the best of life can one day return to be experienced again.
This past summer was a remarkably green one for my porch. I cannot recall having such a wonderful blend of hanging baskets, potted plants, and flower beds. The yellow, white, orange, and red flowers became a virtual wall around my porch, letting in the light through open spaces while chasing away the night as string lights glowed around the dark edges of the porch. I had a quiet sanctuary where I would complete the day's crossword puzzle, read a book until I grew tired, and even start journaling again. A cup of coffee, my dog Charlie, and some pillows behind my back were all I needed for a comfortable mini-escape right here at home.
The weather began to change near the end of September; the days grew shorter and slightly more relaxed. I needed a heavy blanket and a small, portable heater to extend the life of my sanctuary. In my journal, I would ask myself how a person can make serenity last? We all struggle with keeping those beautiful moments as long as we can, but, like the flowers that bloomed in the pots around us, they eventually fade, turn brown, and become the brittle resentment of a life that simply goes by too quickly.
As I looked around the porch at the shivering vestiges of Portulaca, Lantana, and Marigolds, I glanced at my spider plants, Mom's Christmas cacti, and the red geraniums. In another week, I would take those last three inside, where they would survive the winter and find their old spots on the porch the following spring. But the other three, the shivering ones, seemed doomed to my compost pile down the hill. I have tried to keep annuals over the winter but with rare success. Yes, the green leaves last a while but lose hope once the flowers are gone and wither away forever.
By mid-October, I had a plan. I began to remove the seeds from plants once the flowers died. As I did this, I learned more about each plant: how to cultivate the seeds, store them, and what I would need to do early next spring to grow them again. Retrieving and saving these seeds was a slow and methodical process. Some seeds were as tiny as a grain of sea salt, others looked like mini feathers, and others were as solid as a grape seed. Each told a different story for me. I remembered when I planted it, how I watered it, and how I moved it to the best spot for the sun where I could watch it produce throughout its life cycle.
And here I am at the beginning of November with an empty porch. The seeds are in my new little seed packets with labels and directions for the following year. Cuttings line my window sill indoors, and the potted plants I have brought inside have begun to become dormant. The last plant is my yellow mum, but I heard those can be placed in the ground and survive the winter.
As I enter my winter dormancy, it is a time for closure, reflection, and asking questions. Gathering these seeds and caring for these plants has sparked a personal inner conversation that needs some of the same watering and care my sanctuary needed throughout the spring and summer.
Why was I focused on keeping these seeds? Why not simply buy seeds or seedlings next spring? It would be easier to simply toss away the plants no longer growing. I don't believe this, though. Am I simply being thrifty? Am I only trying to save a buck or two on some seed packets? Thriftiness is possible, but since I am being reflective, I may need to look elsewhere.
We spend time nurturing and selflessly giving of ourselves. We do this for family members, friends, pets, and even plants. We make a choice to offer the best of ourselves to the world. Can this be a sacrifice or a burden to us at times? Yes. But we still give unconditionally. This altruism is a gift that provides us the serenity we want in our lives, so it is understandable when we wish to relish in the fruits of our labors for as long as possible.
Like many plants, moments do fade and, unfortunately, disappear. We wish they wouldn't, but such is life. Of course, the seed that rests at the heart of each moment still remains. It awaits the possibility of our nurturing sometime in the future. Collecting these seeds has reminded me that special moments may disappear for periods but always have the potential to return.