This evening I spent some time in my back yard, something I haven't done very often since I moved here 10 years ago. I've always seen yard care as a punishment -- a chore to avoid at all cost -- so considering the yard a place to enjoy has never been high in my thoughts.
I think that's changing, and that change is yet another signal in recognizing that I've entered a new season of life. I mowed tonight, and not my usual "just enough to get past it" mow. Too often I've been sloppy about corners and such. The goal's always been to get enough done to avoid getting a fine from the city.
Why is it different for me now? I suspect a large portion of the changed perception is due to having some trees removed. Yes, I am a tree lover and one thing that makes me very sad is the wholesale bulldozing of trees when some developers attack a piece of property in order to build highly over-priced McMansions.
However, these were specific trees that I despised. They were ugly. Some produced gnarly ugly fruit that only the birds and wasps could appreciate. They were very difficult to prune and groom. So last year, when some other pruning was required on trees in the front yard, I had the bad trees taken out too.
Also removed was a tall red cedar tree. The only thing that I could say nice about it is that some birds, and the squirrels, liked to hide in it. Oh, and I could say that it was nice enough to die easily. It was not a pretty tree, and it was a terrible source of allergens. It also resided right out my bedroom window so I could never enjoy having my window open.
OK, so I have more yard space this year since the Great Tree-Out of 2005. So... why do I seem to enjoy the yard more? I have big bare areas where the trees had kept grass from growing. That's not attractive.
Maybe it's not the change in the yard that's really significant, but it does work in tandem with the real reason. Getting control over some of the growth has given me some vision of mastering my space. It's as though it's becoming my own garden of Eden -- in that I've been given dominion over this space and I am responsible as its caretaker. It is up to me to make it as attractive as my soul desires it to be.
And yet, that's a symptom -- a shadow, if you will. The true key is that I am observing myself enter a new life phase. And it's one I treasure! Folks, I'm getting OLD.
I am. Not old, as in "start shopping for the nuring home and check the will." Old as in I'm in a third phase of life. No longer child. No longer caregiver (note: never had children, so I never got to do much of the mothering phase. I was a stepmother briefly. My caregiving was more for my mom during the end of her life.)
This third phase -- this growing old -- is new to me. I'm not sure what gifts it will involve, but I am excited.
You know when I first embraced this phase? A few months ago, after I had taken a shower and had washed my hair, I stepped out and started combing my hair. I just caught a glimpse in a split second of a halo... I couldn't believe my eyes so I stopped to look. Yes! There it was! A circle of white all the way around my hairline that I couldn't see when my hair was combed and dry. I looked again. YES! Not salt-and-pepper. WHITE.
It is just the color of my Grandpa Deal's hair. White.
That was the moment I decided I wouldn't color my hair any more. I embrace this change. I've earned it. (Any woman who has gone through hot flashes and night sweats can understand what I mean about "earning it." There should be SOME reward for that. Not that these things are nearly as bad to endure as I've always been led to believe. Menopause has been way oversold in a negative way. We've been cheated by that, women.)
Since the discovery of my "halo" I've started noticing little feathers of white hair growing in at my temples. If y'all remember Gov. George Nigh as he started going gray, you know what I'm talking about. He was very distinguished looking with the white temples. Why is it women aren't "permitted" to be happy with this natural progression? You don't call women "distiguished;" you tell 'em to make friends with Lady Clairol.
Well, I'm admitting that I've colored my hair for a while because it just seemed to be becoming duller. But I've never been happy about doing it. Now, I'm stopping. Yeah, it might look a little strange for a while. I'm hoping I can hold out long enough so that I can get my hair long enough to donate to Locks of Love. I'm about halfway there -- they request 10 inches of hair length so the hair can be used to make wigs for cancer patients. If I make it to 10 inches, I will be able to donate all the hair that is still my "natural" color and then embrace the NEW me fully.
So here I am. Going gray; enjoying my yard. Definitely a new season has arrived.