Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To everything there is a season

First there are the purple and white violets and bluets and unnamed tiny yellow flowers defying winter in our woods. Then life progresses way too fast through pink wild geranium, white fleabane, magenta redbuds, white dogwood if it's a good season, and suddenly, Queen Anne's lace and the lavender blue of chicory that signals full-blown summer and the heat that comes with it. Finally there is the pollen yellow of goldenrod which lasts through the dogwood leaves turning red and the first frosts.

For every kind of wildflower there is a season. For us, too. I hear friends talk about "being too old to do what I used to do." I refuse to use the word old until I'm 80. At least that's what I say now. I subscribe to the Old Testament Hebrew tradition of "If you say it, it can become real."

I know I'm not 20 any more – nor would I want to be – nor 30 or 40... Actually, I'm only 9. I keep trying to convince people of that. I don't tell little children any more because they look at me funny. But my family knows and understands. I grew up as an old child and began working my way backwards as an adult.

I've known people who were old at age 30, and others who were young at age 90. Attitude has a whole bunch to do with that. Genes, too. Of course, our bodies betray us as various parts wear out, but still, if you think young you feel a whole lot younger, I'm convinced.

I remember my daddy saying shortly before he died of lung cancer at age 75 that he was thinking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. That's an accepted idea now, when people have on the average three careers during their lifetime. My dad, John Bachner Gross, died in 1986 and not many people were thinking that way then. Sitting back in retirement was expected when you got to be 60 or 65.

Not me, and not my husband, Bill, either. Although he is a retired community planner, he is still working, teaching world geography at the Salem campus of National College, as a Census enumerator right now and during the season, as an income tax preparer for Liberty Tax. He also keeps score for Salem Parks and Recreation ball games, and ushers at Salem Civic Center concerts and other events.

As I get closer to 65, I'm beginning to think that someday I would like to slow down a little from the twice-weekly crunch pace of community newspapers. I still plan to write until I'm in the grave, or, in reality, my body is transformed into ashes and scattered in some interesting places around the world – like petals from spent flowers.

To everything there is a season.