Now that October is careening to a close, we’ve had a lot of early mornings in the upper teens (Fahrenheit) – well below zero (Celsius) – here in the great state of Minnesota. I have taken the dog out on many early mornings and the frost has been thick on the ground. The trees are totally bare. The late summer flowers are gone – the cosmos are long gone to seed – and self-seeding for next year, I hope! – and the phlox are a distant memory. People have mums out on their porches, but they’re bringing the pots inside overnight.

But this year, at the advice of my local garden shop, I planted asters, and I can’t believe it. Even after all these frosts, they’re thriving. They’ve survived frost after frost, deluges of maple leaves, hard winds and hailstorms. I’m so thankful to the garden shop for the splashes of purple and yellow that greet me when I come home. Asters! Who knew?

A couple weeks ago a hummingbird kept stopping by my home office window as though she were saying hi. She came often enough that I was distracted from the parade of Zoom meetings and work to do. She came often enough that I could recognize her cheerful hover and wave back at her.

And I can’t help feeling like she was happy about the asters, too – a little brightness in her own journey south. She was expressing her joy to me, and I tilted that joy right back at her. We took a moment to share a love of autumn and its hardy flowers.

Asters, humans, hummingbirds – we feel gratitude for this good earth of ours, and feel the layers of gratitude reflected back at us.