The fall breeze gives a chill to the air. Leaves sing the song of change as they tumble through the yard. The autumn colors are finishing their final transition from bright hues to brown as leaves fall to the ground marking the cycle of seasons. At some point, I know I will have to get out the yard tools and get to work cleaning up this year’s harvest of change. The yearly cycle of growth has reached its twilight and the darkness of winter has started.
Sitting on my patio, I look out across the yard. I pull my jacket tighter around me to fight the chill in the breeze. Though the temperature is getting cooler, the sun still shines brightly, causing me to shelter my eyes. It occurs to me that so much has changed since I moved into this house over thirteen years ago. The very patio where I now sit did not exist when I first took up residence here. The yard has subtly changed in ways that went mostly unnoticed by everyone. If one is observant, the slow changes mark the endless passage of time. I have lived in my current home longer than any other place in my life. This is not just a house it is a home. My home became my foundation, my reflection of the joy in life, and my sanctuary against the pressures of life. With a newfound perspective, I look across the expanse of my yard and smile. My eyes fall on this year’s new addition to the landscape of my home and I think back on the events that brought it into being.
Over the past year, my wife and I made a few changes to the landscape. A few of our older trees, infected by disease, required removal leaving our house exposed to the elements. As the years passed, trees were lost, either from disease or from required “improvements,” leaving our yard vacant of shade and color. I was becoming a little distraught over the lack of trees around our home. Growing up in a rural area and having many trees around was a fond memory of home for me. Understanding my feelings about the trees, my wife devised a plan. While on a weekend getaway earlier this spring, my wife presented me with a gift that I had not expected. She gave me a voucher for a tree as an early anniversary gift. She told me that as our love has grown over the years, this tree too would grow and flourish. The tree became a symbol of our relationship.
The newly planted tree grew throughout the summer. We would take evening walks out to admire the new growth. We watered it as often as the dry summer required. It became the focus of our evening conversation. Once, we saw birds built a nest in our new tree. We sat on the patio and watched, as the robins would fly back and forth with building material. No matter what stress the day brought, this little tree had a calming effect. Moreover, like all relationships, the tree has cycles.
As the season changed, the leaves began to turn a deep red. Sitting on my chair, enjoying the fall breeze, I watch the leaves falling and covering the ground. I ask myself if this change is symbolic of relationships as well. Marriages have points where they are full of life and renewal. As the marriage grows, it develops of a rhythm similar to the seasons. Marriage contains moments of understanding and caring that flourish, wilt, and are reborn. Like the tree, our relationship goes through cycles. It starts as a vibrant sapling with rapid growth, settles into the slow dependability spreading its roots as it reaches for the warmth becoming a strong foundation for new seeds to spread on the wind. The real strength of couples seems to be that they recognize these cycles. Couples need to take the time to understand the seasonal changes and look forward to the revival that comes in the next cycle. Relationships like trees require nurturing, discovery, and appreciation. For successful couples it seems important to take moments away from the stressful days and just marvel at their growth. At times, relationships like trees in winter will lay dormant without what appears to be growth. As winter gives the foliage a time to recover and prepare for the next spring, this too is the case with relationships as relationships need the time to renew and become revitalized.
Smiling to myself, I walk out to the tree, silently thanking it for its wisdom. This surprising gift has become a symbol, a reminder of the cycles of relationships. Like the tree, a marriage begins fragile and requires constant attention to protect and nurture. As it grows, roots give stability yet, through it still go through cycles. Situations, like the seasons, influence the growth and health and successful couples weather the storms. Though the cold of winter will be upon my little tree soon, it will stand tall, waiting for spring to bring the next cycle.
Until next time…