Autumn, Gifts, Maple Trees

The Illusion of Ownership

Red, in better days
Goldie back in 1992

For the first time in 26 years, our autumn will be a little less glorious. Last month, one of our large maples died, seemingly overnight. It was one of two that were in the front yard when we moved here in 1988. That red maple was part of our history. Our grandchildren climbed on her lower branches, and her crooks cradled many an Easter egg. We expected Red to outlast us–maples can live over a hundred years. However, as we’re finding, not all do.

Although it might have seemed to passersby that Red died quickly, we’ve known for several years her days were numbered. A forester we consulted when we first noticed her decline told us that even a nick by a weed eater can make a tree susceptible to disease and insects, leading to premature death. 

 Whatever the initial wound, Red is gone. When our tree service didn’t show up as promised, the Johnson boys—Terry and Jerry—powered up their chainsaws and did the job. I was amazed at the amount of wood the guys stacked by the street.

Two days later the yard waste people arrived and carted off every last branch. The stump grinder came the next, leaving us with a pile of sawdust where Red once stood. 
Instead of planting another tree, Terry’s on a new mission. Grass. For years, he’s tried to thicken up the front lawn, but even shade-tolerant varieties  refused to thrive under the trees. The very next weekend he carted off the sawdust and brought in sod–lots of centipede sod that only requires two hours of sunlight. True to form, he hauled it, prepared the ground and laid every inch of it alone. And it’s taking root.

Although we had no idea Red would be gone so soon, we did acquire another tree this summer when a small Luetumpka Red Japanese maple caught my eye at a Navarre flea market. The cultivator, a graduate of the University of Alabama landscape architecture program, proudly told us that particular variety had been developed by Mr. Johnson. We figured if a Johnson produced the little sprout, it must have potential. 

I christened him Akio(bright boy).

Akio’s too small go in Red’s spot, and we haven’t decided where to plant him. (Maybe he’ll get us started on that flower bed we’ve been thinking about for two years). Wherever the little guy ends up, you can be sure we’ll tend to him with care.
As I think of how I’ll miss Red’s fiery leaves each autumn, I’m reminded of the people and other beautiful things that have slipped away far too soon for my liking. If I could have, I would have kept them longer. But as with all of God’s creation, they weren’t mine to control. They were just on loan for a season. 
It’s important to recognize and relish God’s gifts while we can. But with the right perspective, I’m finding that long after they’ve departed, they continue to shine in my heart.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, 
who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; 
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
 Ps. 72: 18-19 

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved

Autumn, Change, Priorities

A Change of Seasons

I’m welcoming fall with open arms.

I’m tired of living out of a suitcase.

Most of you know that Terry and I kept the road hot between home and Florida this year with multiple week-long trips. First it was to fluff up a new-to-us place and then to relax from the hard work, all of which meant home-sweet-home got short shrift. 

Our kitties were bewildered but fared well because of our wonderful neighbors. Between the automatic sprinklers and a watering system Terry rigged up for the porch and deck plants, everything survived. But I can’t say anything thrived except volunteer privet hedge, brambles and weeds.

Now that we’ve settled down to our regular fall routine (UALR choir for Terry), I’ve been playing catch up on flowerbeds, getting them ready for fall planting. I cut back the peonies and iris, but the periwinkle looked so pretty I decided to leave it a while longer. A little later, I’ll trade them for ornamental cabbage, mums and violas. 

I haven’t figured out my color scheme beyond the mums and ornamental grass on the front porch. I dusted off my autumn wreath, but I’m waiting to buy pumpkins and gourds. I want them to last through Thanksgiving.   

The lesson for me in all this is that when I spread myself too thin, something suffers. I can’t have flourishing plants without being present to deadhead and feed them. Brambles, privet and weeds will take over if I don’t systematically remove them. I should have planted fewer pots on the deck, but the periwinkle was the right choice for that little flower bed by the driveway. 

That’s the way my life is too. When I sign up for too many things, it shows up in stress and/or performance. I think God gives us new seasons where he says it’s okay to lay down one thing to make time for another or to just be for a while. Giving myself permission to do so can be a challenge because I don’t like to disappoint people. And I must admit I’m pretty invested in some activities. 
My favorite birthday gift this year

I recently turned over a job to someone at church and felt such relief. I was glad that no one tried to talk me out of it—people sometimes do, you know. 

I thought about it a long time before saying anything, but when a speaker at a recent conference asked if there were anything we’d secretly be relieved to let go, it was like God confirming that this was the time to give someone else the opportunity to serve.  I believehe picked my replacement, and I know she will do a good job.

What about you. Are you over-committed? Is there anything you’d be relieved to hand over to someone else? 

Think about it.


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecc. 3:1

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved