I sat by the window like a little girl on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus to arrive in his sleigh. All day long I’d been on the lookout for hummingbirds because it had been two days since I’d last seen one in the garden. It’s the same deal every year. As soon as Labor Day goes by, my mind starts bothering me with thoughts of summer coming to an end and the hummingbirds disappearing for another season.
As I looked out over the pots of salvia and blood-orange vermillionaire – plants the hummingbirds have loved most – I quieted my angsty mind and let myself be with the bittersweet sadness of endings. The herb garden is slowly going to seed. The squash and cucumber vines have made their final offering. And what was once endless blossoms of nasturtiums is now starting to dwindle and fade.
My garden has taught me so much about the cycles of life and the importance of fully embracing the end of a season. Just like a garden finale, life’s endings provide us with an opportunity to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, what we loved, and what may need to be released. I loved the nasturtiums, for example, and will certainly plant more next year. I didn’t need the amount of parsley or summer squash I planted so I’ll remember to leave space for something new.
Most of all, my garden has taught me how to befriend grief and sadness. Rather than push the pain aside, I’m learning to embrace the melancholy mood that visits as the blossoms fall and the birds fly south. Rather than curse the maple in the front yard for starting its turn toward winter a little too early for my taste, I bless her and thank her for hosting the birds and bees I love so much.
And then there’s the hummingbirds. Just when I thought I might need to accept their departure, I get a surprise visit. As I sit here at my desk, a flash of feathers draws me to the door leading out to the garden and I find a female hummingbird having a drink at the feeder. As I admire her luminescent dress, she lifts off and comes to the door, fluttering before my eyes long enough for me to thank her and say goodbye. Just in case this is the end.