There is a certain order, a natural rhythm to the cycles of life in the garden and landscape that I not only accept but follow joyfully each year.  Before we can celebrate the rush of new growth in spring we must allow for the inevitable slowing down and death of winter to occur.  In a short span of one year we see how all of this works in the beauty and perfection of the trees, shrubs and the flowers of cherished perennials.  This year I experienced that cycle of life in a different, much more profound way when during the dark days of winter, I said goodbye to two of my beloved animal companions as they moved from this world to one of pure spirit.

Sierra, my 11 ½ year old Australian Shepherd and Susie, my 10-year-old Border Collie mix were my constant companions in the garden and on long walks through the lush landscape of the ranch we inhabit.  Along with Sister, my 10-year-old Collie/Pyrenees mix we marched through many seasons of beautiful spring wildflowers and Mt. Laurel blooms, hot summer prickly pear ripening’s and cold, gloomy winter starkness.  Together we watched as the seasons came and went and relished in each one because there was beauty to be found in all.  There was hope to be had at the end of winter because after the long, slow sleep that comes with cold weather we could always sense the bounty of spring just around the corner.

This year it has been different and much harder to hold onto the hope of spring after so much sadness and grief during winter’s dark days because my dogs are much more than pets.  They are not only family members but also my children, so having to say goodbye to Sierra and Susie was heartbreaking and terribly difficult. But because I have been a gardener my whole life and make my living helping things grow I know that within the scope of all of creation there is a right time for everything…beginnings and endings.  Without endings, there would be no room for new beginnings.  All living things will eventually die…it is simply the true nature of life on earth.

Spring has indeed followed winter this year as it does every year.  Accepting the natural order of life and all its cycles is my lesson this year.  Death is hard and grief seems never-ending but with each walk along the pasture road I’ll honor my companions as I gaze on trees covered in neon green new growth and smell the grape Kool-aide fragrance of Mt. Laurel blooms knowing that all of life is precious and our time here is brief.  I will dwell in gratitude for the many years of joy my time with Sierra and Susie brought me and I know I will always feel their kind and generous spirits in my heart forever.


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