Saturday, August 21, 2010

Marking the Milestones

I have a thing for milestones – those on the road, those on the road of life, and those on the garden path. They orient me. The milestones on the road tell me how far I’ve gone and how far there is to go. The milestones on the road of life help me celebrate my friends and family. The milestones on the garden path help me remember the rhythm of the seasons.

I have driven the road from Minneapolis to just north of Chicago (where my dad lives) so many times I have the mile markers memorized. Mile marker 143 is the Tomah, Wisconsin rest stop – sort of the half way point. Mile 182 is Oconomowoc, Wisconisn – hometown of my brother-in-law and 20 miles from Milwaukee. And, mile marker 68 is Milwaukee Av in Illinois – the mile marker that tells me I’m just about 10 minutes from my destination.

On the road of life there are birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays both sacred and secular. There are a lot of 50s happening this year – and a lot of excited kids going off to their first year of college. Babies are being born and parents and colleagues are dying.

On the garden path, I tend to count firsts – the first tulip, the first rose, the first oriole, the return of the Canada Geese. Yesterday, I encountered a milestone that completely disoriented me. I saw a flock of geese heading south. It seemed unbelievable, frankly. It’s mid-August and the temperatures are still in the 90s. But, there they were—leaving their summer home and heading for warmer climes. Soon, more will follow. The sedum will take on a rosy glow and the trees will burn bright with flaming oranges, yellows, and reds. And then, it will come . . . the first snow.

But, that will be weeks from now. Today, it’s still summer, with time to plant new things, rearrange existing things and enjoy the warm sunny days.

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