Bright Like Iron (Weed)

Can you guess my favorite fall color? It’s not the rubies, golds, bronzes, or sunset oranges in the treetops. No. My favorite fall color lives much closer to earth. My favorite fall color inhabits the ditches along the highways and springs up in the fence rows hedging country roads. It bursts bright and refreshing among the fiery trees. My favorite fall color is purple, but specifically the purple of prairie ironweed.

In all the burnt and blazing warmth of autumn, ironweed touches the color palette with coolness. Something puzzles me, however. I don’t know why the ironweed blooms now, in the midst of fall, rather than in the glory of spring; but, even if I don’t know why it is, I know that it have a point. This conspicuous bloom makes me smile, the gleam of royal purple like a beacon of life in a world preparing to hibernate.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy fall with its cooler air and brilliant color show. But I always remember that the weather is wending its way towards the silent grey cold of winter. A flash of ironweed reminds me of what will come after winter, after the cold, the silence, and the hard freeze. Rebirth, Renewal. Glorious spring. Ironweed reminds us that light and color and renewal will come again on the other side of the oncoming winter. I want to be like that.

I want to be bright like ironweed.

I want to be a reminder of the life that waits beyond the hardship, the struggle, the trials, and aching heartbreak. I want to be a hand for someone to grasp when it feels like their world is smoldering around them. A safe place amidst the storm.

I want to be bright like ironweed.

To be bright like ironweed is to stand as an island in the river for those who are raked over and shattered on the rocks of life. To show them my own scarred back, often hidden from sight, and assure them that their pain is valid and real and understood.

To be bright like ironweed is to be an alcove in the storm for those who are tossed and thrown about by the waves and whipped by the icy wind. To show them my own windburned skin and assure them that the storm will end someday and endurance and healing are possible.

I remember those who have been ironweed in my own autumns, those who have been bright spots amidst what can be the wearying blaze of every day. I recall what they have done and given, standing stalwart in the midst of emotional tumult or climbing down to sit in the low dark with me. I recall their rejoicing  with me in my triumphs, elation at my joy, and their love splashed over me in dry seasons. I want to learn from these people about  that brightness. I want to learn from them about living my purpose, whatever that might be, to be whatever help I might be. I do not know why the ironweed blooms when it does but I know that it is a blessing to me. I may not know exactly what impact I might have on the people and world around me but I can do my best to make it a good one. I know what has been done for me and how important it is to my life and my soul. I should like to do the same for others, to gift them with the same support, hope, and love that has been showered on me and has bolstered my spirit.

I want to be bright like ironweed.


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BloPoMo Day 4: Amethyst Flashes in Autumn

Now, as I drive home along the highways, I am met with a beautiful sight. Amidst the paling grass and slowly changing trees, there are brilliant flashes of color in the brush of the side ditches, fence rows, and treelines. It’s a brilliant purple flower that grows in bunches that shock and delight me, making me want to pull my car over and collect them in massive bouquets to fill my home with spring color in the midst of autumn warmth. I do not know for sure what they are and neither does my 4H-for-lifer husband. But, according my research, my best bet is that these could be vernonia or Prarie Ironweed. I will not pick them without knowing for certain–as I would not anything else–but, for now, I will just enjoy their stunning splashes in my day and the smile that always comes with their waving amethyst heads.


HoosierLand in the Fall

I ask myself this all the time: WHY would I want to live anywhere other than Indiana? And it’s usually when I am driving out in the country somewhere. Right now, Indiana is ablaze with autumn. It is my husband’s favorite time of year and is fast beocming one of mine. Today was a sunny, cloudless, cool day and, as I drove to and from church, I just marveled once again at the beauty of the land around me. Sure, east central Indiana is as flat as a failed souffle but there’s no denying the sight of a forest on fire with autumn colors cresting the horizon of a harvested corn field. It’s a beauty like no other. There’s a scent coursing along the crispness in the air, like a sharp, sweet, cold apple. Cliche maybe but appropriate nonetheless.

It’s not just a smell but also a feeling. A stirring inside. Life is changing in the fall and I am beginning to find it more beautiful than ever before.