“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”
  — Eleanor Roosevelt

Autumn is here, and the leaves are blooming with wild color.  There is an aroma in the air; and if change has a scent, I imagine it is the same as the musky smell of Autumn leaves falling to the damp earth and beginning their journey home.

For the past four years, I have spent the month of October as the Little Old Lady Who Lives in the Woods, reading a story about not being afraid to wagonloads of preschoolers and elementary students.  I would sit in my little house — a shed, really — and watch the subtle changes of Autumn arrive from one week to another, one day to another, and one minute to the next.

This year the Pumpkin Patch has closed.  There are no hay wagons, no pumpkins, no gourds, and no Autumn magic to be shared with the little ones.  My awareness of Autumn has lost its sharpness, as my days are spent in town.  I no longer have access to the magical feeling that maybe I really do live in that tiny house, listening for the familiar growl of the tractor engine that heralded the arrival of visitors from town who just happened to be fortunate enough to run out of gas in my changing woods.  I sit in my own house, with the traffic flowing by.  No one stops and asks for my gas can.  No one stops to hear my story.  No one’s eyes light up when I toss a handful of colorful leaves into the air and let them fall for a second time.  Change has come to my world; and although a piece of my heart will forever reside in the tiny cabin with woodpeckers stopping to knock on the trees outside my door, it is time to move on.  And I have.

Eleanor Roosevelt is right.  Life is to be lived; and we cannot fully live our lives if we are stuck in the past, no matter how sweet those days might have been.  Some experiences last only a second, some last a day or two, and if we are really lucky there are those that go on for years of sweetness before they are done.

Autumn seems different this year.  The subtle changes are not my main focus; and the ones I see when I walk through the park seem abrupt.  The evolution of Autumn seems less smooth and more abrupt.  Perhaps my own sense of loss at the ending of this special part of my life is playing itself out in my own recognition that my life’s season is moving toward Autumn as well.

New adventures have come my way, and I gently lay the Pumpkin Patch to rest.  As much as I want to embrace it and hold it tightly, I know from sad experience that I must empty my arms of its beauty and allow it to melt into the earth with the Autumn leaves.  Only then will my arms be wide open and available to embrace something new.  As much as I would like to have just one more moment of this wonderful part of my life, I know from past times of letting go that something just as wonderful lies just around the corner and waits for my embrace.

Life is to be lived; and until we relinquish the things that are done, we cannot begin to imagine the beauty that lies ahead.  Whatever change comes our way, we must be willing to release our hold on one experience before we can fully live another.  And so, unafraid, I gather all the courage that has come my way through the changes I have known and step forward, anticipating what lies ahead.