The Cycles of Life and Death

The cycles of life and death seem never more apparent to me than in the fall. Falling leaves, dried and withered, like the sudden chapping of lips and knuckles, scuttle across yards and pathways like so many industrious mice and chipmunks as they store away for the season. October 26, 2014 saw me in the herb garden at the museum where I am a costumed volunteer. On this blustery, fall day, incongruous to the autumn splendor, was a single, lonely rose blossom–a deep and lustrous shade of pink amidst the browns, golds, and yellows of the falling leaves–and a cluster of cottage pinks, only a shade paler of a pink. Both were a bit gaudy against some of the deeper shades of orange that represent a New England autumn yet a symbol of tenacity of some to persevere in the face of seemingly impossible odds. In the case of the single rose and cottage pinks, the seemingly impossible odd was winter being just around the corner. This was the second such example that I received that week.
The first example of perseverance and tenacity that I received has been christened Gale (or perhaps, Gail) the Snail. Gale/Gail rolled out of a bag of dandelion leaves one morning. The bag had been in the refrigerator for at least 3 days and who knows how long the bunch had been in the grocery store. And who knows how far Gale/Gail traveled before arriving at Big Y Supermarket! Tucked deep inside his/her shell, I assumed the shell was empty and tossed it into the chicken bucket. An hour later found Gale meandering up the side of the container, antennae up as he/she inquisitively explored this warmer (albeit probably smellier…if snails care about such things…) new world. Gale now lives inside a quart-sized mason jar on the counter. A plug of moistened “frog” moss provides necessary hydration; a piece of cheese cloth over the opening of the jar provides oxygen, and a sprig of whatever greens I happen to have on hand gets thrown in for Gale to eat.
How is it that such a minute creature, scarcely larger in circumference than a shiny, new penny, can survive for days on end in an airless plastic bag inside the refrigerator when my Orion bunny succumbed just days’ prior to an intestinal worm? In a blog entry such as this I am not going to solve the mysteries of life and death but it is a wonder nonetheless.
Did Roxy display this same tenacity as Gale in that last lovely head-tilt that greeted me her last night on earth when I came home from work? Will Bear, bone tumor diagnosed recently, display the same tenacity and stoicism as his dam? Or, heart not quite healed from losing his Roxy, will Bear leave this blessed earth like Orion, quickly and without complaint, the fight gone out of him from his loss? I am hoping that he will elect to stay and fight for awhile, selfish creature that I am.
In the meantime, I will continue to marvel at cottage pinks, a single rose in bloom in late-October, and a tenacious, wee garden snail–symbols of hope in this ever-changing world; symbols of faith in our great Creator, and a can-do attitude placed on some very special spirits. All is not lost. New beginnings in new seasons of life, shining brightly for as long as their time is allowed.
God bless you & keep you!

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