With a population of just 200 people, Mount Wilson boasts a church, a fire station and a village hall. There are no cafes or shops, just unspoilt vistas in all directions. It's a village of gardens where cold climate plants thrive in the rich volcanic soil and cold mountain atmosphere. The gardens are vast and magnificent, an investment of decades of love and commitment, and each year that love blossoms into a spectacle of beauty.
This year I wandered my way thorugh the early morning mist, through the lush rainforest into the centre of a village wrapped in a blanket of green ... vivid, luminous green. I was stunned. The same week last year I had photographed those same trees ablaze with red and orange. As I ventured deeper into the village there were a few glimpses of colour, the odd tree valiantly forcing its way into the rapidly ebbing season, but mostly it seemed to be the autumn that time forgot.
I guess I live a lot of my life like that, taking life for granted.
And yet it's the very thing that has frustrated me over the years. When the washing and ironing was done, clean clothes in the drawers, food in the fridge and meals on time, nothing was ever said. But when something wasn’t there, I always heard. Funny how we don’t miss something until it isn’t there or until what’s missing makes life uncomfortable.
Edna and Stan were siblings. Their father was a quiet, loving man but always busy outside the home, their mother, an exceedingly demanding woman who feigned ill health to get attention. As soon as Stan found work, he moved to another state while Edna became the faithful, loyal daughter who cared for her parents and was constantly at her mother's beck and call.
On rare occasions when Stan came back to visit his parents, his mother would 'kill the fatted calf' and organise the celebrations. They were difficult days for Edna, not that she begrudged the celebrations, she loved her brother dearly and was excited to see him again, but it hurt.
Edna was my mother. She shared with me that over all the years she cared for her mother there was never any appreciation or words of kindness, whatever she gave was just expected of her.
Oh how easy it is for people, especially those close to us, to blur into the fabric of life, to lose their value, become commonplace, and taken for granted.
Rarely is it intentional, our focus is elsewhere rather than in the present moment. Mostly we just fail to notice what is being given to us or we register but don't think to voice our gratitude. I think maybe the opposite of 'taken for granted' is 'appreciated'.
My next-door neighbour taught kindergarten children for over 40 years. Her advice, “The best way to change a child's behaviour is to catch them being good and take the opportunity to praise them”. The power of appreciation! We all know it ... it has the power to change our perspective on life.
And its not just people, but things and experiences that I can so easily take for granted ... health, my ability to go to buy whatever groceries I need, being able to get in a car and drive wherever I want to go and a roof over my head. If I'm honest there are an endless list of things I do on automatic, never stopping to realise how fortunate I am, never pausing to be grateful. Each one, a gift left unwrapped.
“To be ignorant of the sacrifices of others that yielded the blessings I enjoy leaves me exchanging the reality of 'blessing' for the assumption of 'entitlement.' Craig Lounsbrough
A very different view of autumn in the Tusheti Mountains.