There are still a few tomatoes ripening (oh, so slowly) on the two surviving tomato plants on my porch. Growing anything is a miracle; growing things at the season edges seems even more miraculous and I am grateful for the wonder of possibility. Every night the tarp goes on to conserve the daytime heat through the cool, lengthy nights. By late October, I have been waking in the dark for almost a month which is the first Samhain challenge each year to greet those of us who are morning people.
It feels as if I was just sitting in front of the computer screen writing the final reflection for Beltane…and here we are at the final reflection for Lughnasadh. Time can be a fleeting companion and this season has moved briskly for me. In fact, it feels like I have been shot from a cannon in more ways than one and I am hoping for a soft landing somewhere in Samhain.
Meanwhile, I have been pondering how tricky harvests can be. Even farmers (who have considerably more practice with the vagaries of sowing and reaping than most of us) are sometimes startled by what grows and what doesn’t. And more than one gardener has been taken aback by a packet of mis-marked seeds. The weather (both inner and outer) will affect what is produced making it plentiful or sparse, intense in flavor or bland. Plants that grew in profligate abundance last year, barely make it through the season this year – however carefully coddled. So, sometimes we end up with 52 jars of tomatoes, and sometimes it is 52 jars of pickles.
I have been noticing that this year I found it difficult to be flexible – fewer peaches left me unsettled rather than eager to enjoy the pears. Starting with the peculiarity of being away during pansy planting time in the spring, I have been exasperated by drooping plants or unexpected absences in the farmer’s markets. Asparagus had a short season and I simply wasn’t ready to substitute something else. There have been other years when I have seen an unusual season as a whimsical blessing. This year, it left me off-balance emotionally. It seems to me that these disconcerting feelings can teach us as much as our delighted or contented feelings; they say something important about who we are and where we are right now. So let’s bring some attention to all of that, taking a little time to be intentional about our experience of the autumn quarter.
What were the unexpected (surprising, disconcerting, delightful) harvests of these three months?
Where did you find generosity was easy or, conversely, where was it difficult?
Were there places where you noticed less productivity than you expected (or wanted)? Or more productivity than you dreamed of?
Where are you feeling a spacious emptiness?
Whose nurture increased your own bounty? Who needed your nurture?
Take the time to write your thoughts and answers — and questions — down in your journal. By now you probably know (but let me remind you anyway) that the entry or entries don’t need to compete with a short novel in length. Usually a few phrases or sentences help you remember your epiphanies from this small capsule of time.
On the evening of October 31 (Friday) maybe before the first Halloween ghosts and goblins arrive, you may want to offer a benediction to the season from the back door or patio of your house. On Saturday morning, November 1, you may want to welcome the new season into your life at the front door. As I have noted before, saying farewells and hellos are two essential skills for this temporal life. Seasonal shifts provide good opportunities to practice.
Here are the words I will likely be using. You are free to read them just as they are, to adapt them, or to write your own. You can be totally spontaneous or you may want to prepare with some intention. Whatever feels right. [And in the spirit of total honesty, I have missed these moments in the past…it is fine to do your farewell and welcome on November 3rd or 4th. The calendar is a human construct; let’s not make it more of an idol than we already do.]
reaping golden nurture
from furrows birthing extravagance,
accept the fruit and grain of my growth
to be benediction and affirmation,
gratitude for the seasoning of this cycle.
Receive my heartfelt thanks
for life-giving energy that set me ablaze
with crimson joy and pumpkin glory,
and now, quietly deepens,
softening me into rest.
Fare you well as you journey
collecting the seeds of harvests
yet to be sown.
Fare you well.
and on the morning of November 1
Come you in, Steadfast Peace.
You who tenderly unfold blessing,
wrapping creation into
silence of waiting,
softness of snowfall,
darkness of dormancy,
starkness of landscape,
strength of trunk,
depth of roots,
vision of dreams,
stamina of endurance,
healing of hibernation.
Be you welcome to share the candleglow of my soul.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, Immram Chara, LLC
Note: The leaves are a close-up of my husband’s birthday stole. The whole stole and yoke can be seen in the Archives. The photo of the door (taken at Sissinghurst in England) is available as a special order card or print through Etsy. The code number for reference is T11.