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I am a flowering, fruit bearing, seed dispersing plant. Am I always in bloom? No. Will fruit always hang from my branches? No.

I will winter and I will go to seed when the time is right. Some winters are longer than others. During winter, I appear lifeless and forgotten. Sometimes, parts of me will become diseased and either heal or need to be pruned from me to save the plant as a whole. When seeds fall from me, and I am also in those seeds, they must burrow underground or be blown away. So, now I know that when all is dark around me and I feel buried alive, I am not forgotten nor am I dead or dying, but in fact, I have been planted. Again.

Many seasons and many days, I will cycle through times of growing, times of flowering, times of bearing fruit, times of wintering, and times of being planted. All of these cycles we call life and living, though some are more pleasant than others, all are necessary for the reasons discovered along the way. So I try with patience and joyful acceptance of my existence, being ever mindful of my quality. Learning more about me through my senses and experiences, I “dead-head” when and where necessary to facilitate growth. The existential loneliness that will accompany my “winters” is not a time to forget that life does indeed continue to course through me, unseen from the outside world, but it is there. Like an unborn fetus in the womb before the mother knows it exists, the life is there. From my experience with “wintering”, people will ignore my existence or just leave.

They may no longer see a reason to hang around if they can’t see any signs of life or if they see too much bruised fruit from life’s hail storms or diseased branches. Chances are though, hopefully at least one person or a few perseveres alongside me, like a burlap wrapped around me, to protect from the elements or vandals. Then when I am strong again, I can offer a shade for some or beauty and fruit to others, as my life, like everyone has purpose. Melanie Wagner

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