The comfort of seasons

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Mesabi Tribune.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3.1)

A bear bumbled through Keewatin a while back. It knocked over some garbage cans and left on the bike trail. I heard about some bears in Hibbing, too.

This is the season when yearling cubs strike out on their own. For the first time they alone must find enough food to bulk up for winter hibernation.

We could make some comparison to our human lives. We, too, must grow up and provide for ourselves. But I think most young bears have it worse. For these bears, it’s life or death. They forge into territories controlled by humans who could kill them, racing the elements that surely would.

Those bears who survive the first year earn better odds the second year. Eventually, some become big enough and strong enough to lumber through the woods with the confidence of age, unaware of the luck that aided their perseverance. How fortunate that we must only live this way when we choose to turn our back on each other.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; (Ecclesiastes 3.2)

I pulled up the garden last week. It was a good year. The beans fed us all summer. We got enough tomato sauce for a winter’s worth of pasta dinners.

Still, I always feel strange pulling up the plants I had watered and pruned since May, sensing the snap of their intricate roots. I want to tell them something but I don’t know the words.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; (Ecclesiastes 3.3)

Fall colors came fast this year. Last Sunday’s wind stripped the most vibrant leaves. That’s how I learned that last Saturday was the best day.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3.4)

Like the wind, the pandemic keeps swirling through our community. It now takes family members from people I know. The vulnerable leaves fall first, then later the strong.

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; (Ecclesiastes 3.5-6)

The more I learn the less I know. But one thing I have learned is the peace that comes from speaking truth. And the truth is that I exist uneasily within this world as it now appears.

I see and hear in the communities of northern Minnesota a great deal of spite and contempt for those who are different, who think differently or even among those who report inconvenient truths. Indeed, people seem to be following entirely different truths, most of which are nothing of the sort.

No threat or lecture will change all that. Only God in time, and all the more painfully the worse we get.

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3.7-8)

But the very best part of fall is the work. The air is cool and the sun speaks perfectly when labor should begin and end. Beasts and humans alike, ever motivated by deadlines, know the time is short. We humans hold the privilege of knowing that more seasons will come around if we keep ourselves.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (Ecclesiastes 3.9-10)

I will always find comfort in the seasons, especially the fall. Death is the promise that makes life worth living. The few years we get only emphasize how important it is for us to work them toward greater purpose. We are meant to take joy in this work, no matter how serious, somber or hard. It is the way forward to what lies beyond our years, to take root in the lives of future generations. Just as we now harvest the sweet and bitter fruits of our peoples’ past.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. (Ecclesiastes 3.11-12)

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.




  1. Elanne Palcich says

    The leaves this fall were exceptionally beautiful–if for a short time. In the middle of Covid and chaos, I hope we learned something about the intrinsic beauty and value of our environment.
    Thanks for your beautiful message, Aaron.

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