Regardless of pandemics, strife, and the sturm und drang of life, the Wheel of the Year continues to turn and my “year of roses” continues to progress. Today is the first official day of fall, which means that today is the autumnal equinox. I have learned over multiple trips around the sun that when Nature changes, it’s wise to pay attention. So on this day of rare balance, it seemed like an excellent time to review a few things and set some intentions for the coming months.
Fall is a time of preparation – winter is coming and that’s a time of hunkering down in the dark and quiet to allow the planted seeds time to rest and gather strength for the coming spring. Fall is a busy season as we harvest, preserve, and plant. Please don’t think that these actions are only for farmers and other workers of the land – your soul needs some harvesting, preserving, and planting, too.
Harvest – hopefully, you’ve spent some time this year delving into what matters to you and learning some ways to care for yourself. I know I’ve done some of that this year – some not by choice, either. (The Divine will get your attention one way or another and I have learned it’s best to pay attention to the gentle nudges to avoid the more drastic attention-getters used by the Cosmos.) I have a hidden stash containing a stack of good, unread magazines, a box of love letters to re-read, sample sizes of a variety of yummies (ranging from bath items to chocolates), and something delicious to brew in a cup. I also have a variety of playlists that I can access in just a few minutes to set the mood – including “quiet spa” and “raucous road trip.” Maybe your “harvest” includes supplies for the potting shed or the drawing table. Maybe it’s a Pinterest board of recipes or crafting ideas. Maybe it’s a “to be read” list. WHAT it contains doesn’t really matter – that you HAVE it does, for this is the season to harvest your bounty. And yes, if you like pumpkin spice everything, go do you. You owe no one an explanation for your joys.
Preserve – You need to keep the well of your contentment refreshed and that means taking some steps to preserve your harvest for the coming lean months of winter. If you’re so inclined, that can mean making jams and canning vegetables, or it can mean smoking and dehydrating jerky and hams. It can also mean carving out time to meditate and journal, to paint and quilt. My Mamaw canned and I remember that going down into her basement was like entering a secret, quiet cathedral where the stained glass was row upon row of Ball jars of tomatoes, green beans, and chow-chow (that’s Southern chutney, if you’re not from around here). It was beautiful and gave me a sense of comfort. Winter might be hard – but we’d eat well no matter what. And I feel sure that all the hard work in a steamy kitchen that those jars represented were a form of prayer.
Plant – You also need to plant for the coming spring during this season. The Wheel does turn and spring will come. Maybe this is a literal planting for you – buy some flats of pansies and chrysanthemums or three dozen tulip bulbs. (Planting actual roses is a lot of work – double-ditching is not for the faint of heart! But, depending on where you live, early fall can be a good time. Bulbs, on the other hand, are easy – just plant with the pointy side up.) But “planting” can also be laying the groundwork for new harvests next year as you tend to your soul with a trip to pick up some fresh-pressed cider or you bake two pumpkin pies (one to keep, one to give away). Maybe you gather pecans or rake a neighbor’s yard with the understanding that you then get to jump in the pile of leaves at least once.
Here are some additional ideas to get your creativity flowing as you plan how you’ll harvest, preserve, and plant in this fall season, whether you’re doing these with family and friends, or taking some solo time. Think of it as another way to gather your roses.