Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Tuesday's Reflection: Bittersweet
I love white tulips in the spring, daisies in summer, Christmas greens in December, and yellow roses any time. And in the fall bittersweet is my favorite. Early this fall I resorted to buying a bunch. At great expense, I might add. My mother always said one should not have to pay for rhubarb or bittersweet, but I knew I couldn't depend on spontaneously finding some just waiting for me and like applesauce and pumpkins, bittersweet is a fall must for me.
When we lived in the country in Ohio we knew just where to find it, and my lust for it was also fed by a good friend in Pennsylvania whose backyard was at the foot of a mountain where it grew in profusion. She shipped me a large boxful--if it had been my birthday, I could not have received a better present. I swagged it on our white picket fence from the driveway to our backyard. I was bittersweet rich!
One day last week my bittersweet luck was restored. My husband and I spent the day roaming an area in southern Minnesota along the Root River. The day was grey and overcast, clearly forecasting the winter that arrived yesterday with the first snowstorm of the season. We drove about two and a half hours to Lanesboro, a small town which bustles with bikers in the summer and is the home to artists all year. After a delicious lunch at Pedal Pushers, we crossed over to the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River for our return home. Throughout the day we took in the sights--hawks and eagles, tundra swans, and cornfields dotted with fat round bales of cornstalks, giving a playground air to the vastness. Stripped trees, a mix of lead grey, sturdy as new pencils, and the tarnished silvery bling of the birch, reinforced the outline of the river bluffs.
Bruce reminded me to keep my eyes open for bittersweet, but he was the one who spotted the intense orange in the unlittered branches. Were we prepared for the harvest? We certainly didn't have a ladder to capture the entwined vine nor did we think we had a scissors or pruning shears. What kind of adventurers were we?That didn't stop Bruce, however. We parked off road, and off he went to capture the flag. Success! My hero!
Yes, I know it is an invasive vine and can be destructive to the host trees, but I love the intense orange of the berries and its twisty, turning, even scraggly appearance. It adds a pop of color to fall arrangements or bunched together makes a statement all on its own. It is well named-- bitter…sweet.
How much of our life can be labeled "bittersweet"? Growing older definitely has its bittersweet moments--being retired and having more time to reflect and make choices about how we most want to spend our time, but perhaps not having the energy or the ability to pursue what we desire or not being sure of what that might be. We finally have flexibility, but perhaps money or health issues get in the way or time may need to be devoted to aging parents. We are grateful for the gifts of our life, but my, it has gone so fast. How did we get here? There is the lightness that comes with downsizing, but the challenges of letting go. Regrets may shadow the choices we have made, even those that have served us well. As the years add up, the days go by even faster. Summer becomes fall becomes winter. Bittersweet.
One could get quite melancholy, but then there is that orange, almost red, surprise. Just when you least expected it. Bittersweet.
What aspects of your life in the past felt bitter sweet? How about now? In what ways do those times nurture you? I would love to know.