Hummingbrid, sitting on tree branch, in autumn when branches are mostly bare

The big holiday of the year, Christmas, is over and we’ve moved into winter. The weather has settled in, cold and windy, possibly dreary, as winter settles in. We’ve looked to a groundhog for hope or despair on how much longer winter will last. On sunny days, we hope for spring, then find more cold, rain, snow and other signs that winter isn’t going away any time soon.

In the midst of the cold, we look for ways to brighten our days, to remind ourselves that there are more things in life. Holidays can help, such as St. Valentine’s day, then our mood changes as the weather changes. While out for a run, I thought about the seasons, those of the year and the seasons of our lives.

When we are young, our experiences are all new, filled with a sense of wonder as we learn about the world. Sometimes this newness can inspire fear, often times it inspires excitement and joy. Our youth is a place of spring time, where everything is new, life is fresh, and the world feels full of potential

View of grass growing on a hill, with bare patches of earth mixed in with the grass

We grow older, eventually reach adulthood and the world doesn’t seem quite so new. As young children, finding a flower, a hug from a loved one, brings us delight. In young adulthood, we seek larger experiences, such as foreign travel, new possessions, moving away from home, large steps, to try and satisfy our wonder. We are in the summer of our life, searching for wonder and requiring larger experiences to feel the same sense of joy we did when we were younger.

Reaching middle age, we’ve found that those experiences didn’t meet our expectations, we may see more of the disappointments instead of what went right. The world becomes grayer, like autumn and winter, and we can become cynical, jaded, unable to see any of the wonder in the world. It can feel like the world is winding down and it is difficult or impossible to see wonder.

Mountain in the distance with a light covering of snow, hills in front that are grassy with palm trees

In the midst of these stages of life, we may reach a point where we see the wonder of the world again, in spite of the disappointments. After trials and tribulations, we see how precious those small wonders really are. The first flowers of spring, the new leaves on the trees, a child’s smile and giggles, the new independence of young adults and the stability of the middle aged. What was old and gray becomes new as we realize how easily it can be lost. Shelter, food, hugging our loved ones, going on new adventures, none of this is guaranteed and can easily change in a short time.

Spring is on its way, with the wonder and preciousness of the new life that is brought forth. In the meantime, the gray of winter can also be precious as we enjoy the warmth of home and hearth while finding time to rest before a new season starts. There is wonder in the season, if we allow ourselves to see with the eyes of the child we once were.

Pictures by J.T. Harpster, prints of his work can be purchased at

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