The frost came last night. It’s been dancing around the edges for weeks now, visiting here and there in open fields, but last night it arrived. Our back field was white with it. It glistened off the edges of the maple leaves. Those trees will turn quickly now, and we’ll have peak autumn color within days. In my herb circle the basil is completely dead, and will join the already harvested pepper and tomato plants in the compost heap as soon as I can spare a moment.
It’s no surprise that the frost came. It comes every year around this time, and the weather folk have been hinting for weeks warning of its arrival and exhorting gardeners to harvest or cover up the tender plants. Still, it always is a bit of a surprise, a sudden reminder that cold days are here, not weeks away.
Frost and autumn in general are natural endings: impossible to avoid, and hinting at our own natural ends someday. We see them coming, and yet we are saddened by the passing of the basil. We know in our intellect that someday we too will end up as (to put it bluntly) compost, but our tendency is to live in denial, and ignore the signals that the night of our own frost will someday come.
Last night, the frost came, and it was exquisite and sparkly. It had a beauty all its own. It may have brought death to the basil, but it brought sweetness to the local grapes, which always taste better after a kiss of frost. Parsnips aren’t even worth eating until they’ve had a hard freeze, and develop natural sugars in the root.
Natural endings are like that. They bring sweetness as well as sorrow. The death of a beloved elderly relative brings grief, but fond memories of a life well lived. We saw it coming; we knew it was just around the corner. But still it surprises us, like a sudden frosty night.
Our days are full of natural endings. Seasons and lives cycle through the dance of existence, spiraling around and around. May we walk in beauty through them all.
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