I found it this year, the farewell season. Fumbling toward spring I happened upon it. The moment…the moment where we turn our face from winter. Hunched and pinched, we turn, we straighten. We notice light, growth and in the past, I have run to spring. Spring with her open, crocus filled arms teaming with new life. Here, we drag ourselves across the winter finish line, ready to sink deep into rich, moist soil. But not this year, this year I stumbled… How greedy I had been to run from winter, to run away from all that she took in her cold, bitter days. My stretch for the finish line left little space for remorse; after all, I had made it. Mesmerized by spring, I did not see those that I passed by, those that perhaps would not make the finish, not in great strides, not limping or hobbling, those that this year, we would leave behind.
Enter a young moose I had known and even shared a rather intimate winter moment with which involved an outhouse at South Branch Campground in Baxter State Park. This moose had made South Branch his winter home, nibbling on available twigs, shoots and branches. He made convenient use of our human trails, snowmobile and snowshoe alike. And he tolerated the visitors sticking around for camera calls, and yes, even, allowing us to use the outhouse without too much harassment. I spent two days at South Branch this year having skied in from Mattagamon Gate in the north end of the park. Each day the moose and I would find time together, by chance, by providence who knows? I reveled in watching him and felt the possibility of his wild, unpredictable nature. Time spent with this moose was well spent, quiet, observant time, time to rest in sunshine and snow. Really, I wanted to Mother him he was so little, but he nibbled away, moseyed around and looked quite content. He was the true king of the campground castle. So we said our goodbyes and I envisioned his summer escapades with campers even laughing at the mischief he’d make.
I do not need to tell you the end of the story. The ending that surprised me and wounded me, stopped me dead in my spring tracks, when my husband came home from work one day with news of a little death. I am sure this moose was only one of many who made an exchange this winter, who traded up, traded in, left. Only one of many, who I forgot or ignored on my way to Spring…until I found myself stumbling over the tale of a little moose found dead in South Branch campground. My moment in the farewell season calls me to acknowledge all who we lost this past winter. And I wonder if it takes far greater strength to acknowledge then ignore. I shed a tear for that little moose and all the others, but I feel ready to resume my path to spring, only this time I think I will mosey and make sure to look around. Make sure to farewell those that came so close to spring.
The Farewell Season is not a pretty season. It is not an acknowledgement of all that is to come, but an awareness of what we leave behind. It is the subtle time when Hades sorrowfully loosens his grip on Persephone and she reaches for her mother, Demeter. This is where we farewell Hades’ toll: the weak, the ill, the old, the young, here we say goodbye with one hand and like Persephone turn to welcome with the other.