Here in the Northern Hemisphere, you can tell when autumn starts to quietly elbow its way into the tail end of summer: The cricket’s song is slower, more leisurely in the cooler evenings; the mornings have a distinct chill and freshness hinting of the rain-washed air to come in the weeks ahead; even when the temperature rises in the afternoon, the heat is warm, but more lackluster than it was in July and August. The light is later to arrive in the mornings, quicker to leave at night.
As the wheel of the year turns, we arrive at that seasonal tipping point of the autumnal equinox – that moment when the duration of light and darkness are equal, like a perfectly balanced teeter-totter, before the balance ever so gradually starts to shift toward later fall and winter and the dark of the year.
The onset of autumn signals the winding down of the harvest season. Pantries and freezers are filled with the abundance of the yield, set aside to nourish the body – and the soul – through the cold and dark months of winter. I find a deep sense of satisfaction and genuine, fundamental wealth, when I see the rows of jars in various jewel tones on the shelf, the luscious-ness of summer preserved, set to brighten the table in the darker months.
It is also the time of year to settle in and reflect on the personal seeds you planted in the spring; take some time to look back and access what has been or can still be harvested, but also (just as important) what may be best left withering on the vine, maybe to become nourishment for the emotional ground in which you plant your next season’s goals, ideas and dreams.
“At the heart of autumn’s gifts are the twin energies of relinquishing and harvesting…In holding these two in tension we are reminded that in our letting go we also find abundance.” – Christine Valters Paintner
It is the season of candlelight, comfort food, thick sweaters; things that bring warmth to body and soul as we acknowledge that we are now turning toward the cold and dark of the year – the quieter, more introverted season that stands in contrast to the busier, more extroverted nature of spring and then summer. Opposites that contrast and compliment, that dance the year together.
Parker J. Palmer is a man I greatly admire; he is gifted in his ability at putting exquisite wording to the quieter, more contemplative parts of our lives. He has written a beautiful piece about the “paradox of fall” here. I hope you enjoy it.
Celebrate the Equinox and the arrival of autumn. May you find much abundance.
(note: I realize I neglected to post about Summer Solstice this year – so the full circle of the seasons is incomplete here, my apologies – will pick it up next time ’round. – PA)