And To Dust We Shall Return – signs of the end, signs of a new beginning

Fall marks clean up time in the garden. The last of the produce and flowers are picked, perinials trimmed, tools (hopefully) cleaned to be stored away, and weeds put out of our thoughts till warmer months begin to reappear.

This past autumn I picked up many bags of leaves and pumpkins from curbs with the purpose of adding free organic matter to my beds by letting them compost in place. I also threw old flower heads out for the birds to pick clean of seeds. It was heavy, some of those pumpkins were HUGE. It was wet, bags of leaves hold dew and rain in their folds. In the end it was worth it.

While getting some late winter work taken care of I began to see the remains of the previous Autumn’s work. Take a look…

It took a purposeful pause to recognize the item in the first photo as my brain skipped right over registering it the first 5 or so times. These were the sunflower heads I had tossed out for the birds. Bleached by the sun, devoid of their seeds and petals, these are literally skeletons of their former selves. Now to be used in nest building, soil improvement, and other unknown purposes. Nothing goes to waste in nature.

The second photo is a bit easier to recognize – a previously painted pumpkin. The majority of the other pumpkins have long since become piles of mushy, orange goop. Or white goop. Or at least they look that way. This pumpkin on the other hand left behind a thin shell firmed up by a thin layer of paint. It is one heavy butterfly away from crumbling into Oblivion to become part nutrient part soil structure for future flowers. For now it is hanging on.

From dust we came and to dust we shall return. Yet nothing is wasted in nature. Even when it feels like we are past our prime, serving no purpose, no longer hearing the “oohhhhh” and “aahhhhh” which we used to produce, or sitting quietly fulfilling our life’s work bringing smiles to everyone we meet, we can still be of value to those around us. We may never see that result, may never know exactly what it was which made a difference. That in no way lessens the impact. It is not wasted. You have a purpose, a meaning. Even if you do not know exactly what that may be it can still be a very beautiful thing to behold.