A leaf, on fire.
A blazon, star of autumn.
Herald of coming chill.
--Darcey Blue French
It is the time of balancing. Today is the autumn equinox, here in the desert we are celebrating the end of summer, and the coming of cooler days. Summer monsoon rains have disappeared, the days remain warm, but now the nights are cool.
The earth is at a juxtaposition between summer and winter at the equinox. It isn't summer any more, it is dry and the rains have stopped, the sunlight has a particular tinge of gold it casts upon the mountains and the palm fronds, the energy of summer has morphed into something different. But it isn't winter yet, either. It is still hot during the day, and the fruits of summer persist in the last flush of warmth. Plants are going mad in their last days of reproduction, producing flowers, fruits and seeds for the next season. Gardens are being planned for cool season harvests, and the return of students always perks up a sleepy summer pueblo with a zing of new energy and activity.
To me, the fall represents a strange blend of the increased activity of last minute harvests, food preservation, garden preparation, and cooler temperatures that allow for more time spent outside; and the increasing desire to retreat inward, reduce activity, and hunker down for the winter. A sort of hibernation.
It's a balancing act I feel quite poignantly, as I have many demands on my time right now, but the overwhelming urge I feel is to retreat inward, look within, and look at my own needs and preparations rather than those of the world around me. I'm constantly choosing between running out to the wildlands for harvesting the many herbs I need to restock my herbal apothecary for the coming months (I still need oodles of things like more raspberry leaves, more goldenrod, agrimony, passionflower, and desert lavender), picking the last of summer fruits for storing and eating during the winter months (I have yet to go pick prickly pear cactus fruits!), preserving and storing those fruits and herbs (canning fruits, cracking walnuts and acorns, stripping, garbling and storing the drying herbs), and finishing up the preparations on my new garden beds so I can plant winter hardy cool season crops that flourish in our mild winters here ( this means finishing the digging, amending and planting of a 60 sq ft bed all the while the days are still too hot to work in, unless it is before 8 am). All this, plus friends and collegues who need my attention, assistance and energy.
Yet all I want to do some days is go up in the hills and lay down in the grass and just lay there, and ponder, I want to do more journalling, I want to start writing poetry again, I want to continue working on my lessons as an Anima student. I'm getting cranky with friends and loved ones who impinge on my time and privacy. I'm like a hibernating bear, scrambling to eat as many ripe berries as I can before the long dream sleep of winter, where I can rest and look inward at the many many aspects of myself that need attention. I'm longing for the security of a well stocked pantry, enough money to keep a roof over my head, and the time I need to care for myself, as well as take care of clients, customers and loved ones who desire my attention. It's a precarious balancing act indeed.
But I know the plants won't wait, if I wait too long, I'll miss the window, if I don't get my winter seeds planted in the next few weeks, the cold season could be too far along when they need to be growing.
So, as the Earth sits on this fulcrum between activity and rest, summer and winter, I sit on my own fulcrum of change. It's amazing to me how human life so closely can reflect that which is happening in nature. So many things are fruiting and flowering in my life, yet other things are on the verge of being let go, like leaves falling to the ground as mulch for the future seasons growth.
So as summer falls away and winter draws closer, I'm scurrying to finish everything I hope to, and looking forward to some quieter times in the near future for deeper reflection, and the security of much desired income so I can furnish my little nest of a house with some basics (a bed, for starters, among other things).
This week I'm heading to the hills for harvesting the higher elevation plants (raspberry, agrimony, monkeyflower if I'm lucky, more goldenrod and more marigold).
Happy Equinox to all, may you reap a beautiful harvest this fall!