The Turning

Around the end of July, I start looking for signs of the turning. The turning from one season to the next. In Iowa, it’s most easily noted by the color of the corn tassel.
When the corn shoots up a tassel – the color is a pale yellow. As the weeks go on, the tassel turns from yellow to gold to a deeper, burnished gold and bronze. That’s the sign. The leaves on the trees look a little faded and, for Iowa pretty stressed for lack of rain. That vibrant green of early summer is gone. Today, harvest is underway in my part of Iowa.

At the end of August, I moved my youngest to college in Green Bay, WI and we spent a weekend in Door County. That’s the top half of the Wisconsin peninsula that separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan. There was no question that fall color was starting to tinge the maple leaves with orange and the birch leaves turning a yellow-green.

The canal light at Sherwood Point, Sturgeon Bay, WI

Several of my friends have also moved children to college this year – first, last, and those in between. I was a complete mess five years ago when I moved my oldest to college. It’s not easy to pivot from having them at home or with you nearly every single day of the past 18 to 20 years and then recognizing that they are now adults. Dependent adults, but adults not living under your roof as before. My daughter had a gap year between high school and college and last year, due to covid, she chose to enroll for online only courses. She’s more than ready to be out there on her own and will flourish.

And I will too. Just as she is starting a new chapter in life, so am I. I’ve started a new job, met new co-workers, and I have an entirely new routine. We also adopted a six-year-old poodle rescue in mid-June. We are loving him into being a pet instead of a breeder.

And my Covid college graduate from the class of 2020, came home in March 2020 and has been here since. He’s working locally, paying down debts, and thinking about next steps. I’ll be an empty nester someday and that will be another change.

In early June, I injured my back while weeding the garden (this is why my gardens look like h-e-double toothpicks). It was a Sunday morning and I just took it easy thinking that it would be fine in a day or two. By Tuesday, it was clear that it was not just a little thing and I called the doctor to be seen. No availability for ten days. I called around to other doctors to try to get in. As the week went on, I could barely walk for the shooting, electric sciatic pain down both of my legs. It was six days later before I went to the ER.

Seriously. Had this been one of my kids, we would have gone to the ER as soon as it was clear that this was not going to just get better on its own. Why do we question whether or not it’s worthy of an ER visit just because it’s not our kids?

The ER doc was terrific and sent me with drugs and prescriptions to last me until I went to my scheduled appointment. They were immensely helpful, but they didn’t heal what was causing the pain. Physical therapy was ordered and I was ready to try anything to walk without the use of a cane or experiencing this shooting pain.

My first visit, the therapist remarked how much tension I was holding in my torso. My muscles were extremely tight, like clenched teeth. He explained that there were many things going on. My left hip compensating for my right hip before and after the joint was replaced in January. My right hip still healing from the trauma that is total joint replacement surgery. My legs were likely the same length for the first time in my life. Oh, and I had a new diagnosis of adult-onset scoliosis, likely due to arthritic deterioration in my lower back. We stretched, he pulled, I pushed, I worked on it at home for three weeks.

I was to continue the following week for two more sessions, but I started my new job at that time and I didn’t really know how I was going to schedule that. I kept doing my stretches, using the cane, and getting used to a new chapter in life. And I absolutely love my new job. I manage the grant program of Iowa Legal Aid with two full time grant writers and my supervisor, the director of development. The people are terrific. The environment is charged with a sense of mission and passion for providing free legal services to low-income Iowans. It’s rewarding to support our attorneys who are working to provide housing, financial, and family stability.

I was about four weeks into my new job when I started to forget to use my cane. I felt steady on my feet. I wasn’t experiencing the pain that kicked in every time I stood up. My body and my soul had released the tension, both physical and emotional.

My new chapter in my life that started in mid-July with my job change seems to have had an effect on my personal sense of safety and security. Enough for my body to stop holding on to the stress, fear, and tension that was greatly impacting my life.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears
For the dawn draws near
And the world is about to turn!

from “The Canticle of the Turning,” written by Rory Cooney (Don’t miss the link to hear the song performed.)

Everything is turning these days. The calendar pages turn so quickly. The world is turning, physically and metaphorically. I want desperately to believe that all this upheaval is not in vain. That maybe we are witnessing a turning to a better, more mature world that is able to share without worrying if sharing makes things more difficult for themselves. Maybe as human beings we are growing out of our angsty teenage selfishness and realizing our interconnectedness. Gotta have hope, friends.

Published by Laura Nelson Lof

I'm a lifelong Iowan and a proud alum of The University of Iowa. I'm a writer, an armchair political scientist, and an accomplished sports spectator.

One thought on “The Turning

  1. Thank you, Laura. So glad your turning to a new job is helping release tension. Chris’s brother Fred just retired from Legal Aid of Iowa as an attorney. Good to know the family gene for caring about others is caring on for Legal Services of Iowa.

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