Yesterday I took the day off from work to pull out dying vines and plants from my garden. My summer garden supplemented the diets of several people in three households, but now the tomato vines are spent and the squash and cucumber plants are mildewed and turning white. (To see the progress of my garden over the past year, click HERE). After pulling out the dead things and mixing the soil with some manure, I cleaned up, went home and continued this “weeding” by decluttering my house and getting rid of accumulated paperwork that had piled up over the last couple of months.
We all know and probably celebrate the various harvest festivals during this period, such as Thanksgiving, but autumn is more than reaping what we have sown and nurtured during the year. Autumn is also a time of pausing and taking into account the maturity that we have achieve in all our endeavors. It is a time to clean up and prepare for the rest and replenishment that comes from the dark time of the upcoming winter. It is not surprising then that some cultures celebrate their New Year around this time. This past week was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and in a few weeks will come Halloween (Samhain), the traditional New Year observance in the Celtic tradition. According to traditional Chinese cosmology, Spring and Summer are the “Yang” part of the year — the time of growth and fruition. Autumn begins the part of the year which is “Yin”, a time of retreating energy and restoration. It is a time of assessing what we have accomplished. It is a time to breathe and acknowledge what is complete in our lives.
To commemorate this season, here is a poem I wrote a few years ago:
Spent from their fiery rampage,
rest and brood,
over the still indigo of the bay,
a remnant of their holocaust
through the hills. Swollen
pus-yellow moon slowly sinks;
ocherous shafts of dawn light
prophesy yet another hot
while Santa Anas,
hot off the desert, wait
for the end of the day.
The devil winds herald
the arrival of the dead–
The Eve of All Hallows
The Day of All Saints
El Dia del los Muertos
From the Hebrides to New Spain
celebrations of death call
for a time of reflection,
a preparation for rebirth,
by the winds of change
that burn the chaff,
nourish the earth,
and make way
for sweet winter rain. (LGloyd (c) 1997)
Pelican1 (c) 1997, 2011
I don’t remember exactly how old I was–somewhere between the age where I was old enough to remember and understand but not too old to have lost my sense of wonder and amazement–my family went on a vacation to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
The day we visited we took the tour which started at the natural entrance to the cave. It was like walking into the maw of giant beast. I remember my mom not being too keen on this, she not being the most adventuresome of spirits, but my dad and I loved it. How could we have resisted the lure of a labyrinth of caverns with names like The Hall of the Giants, The Temple of the Sun, and the Queen’s Chamber. How could we have not be enticed by a malachite-colored pool called the Green Lake and watching sleeping bats hang from the ceiling. (There is even a place in the caverns called The Rookery, which should resonate with my SFC writing buddies.)
When we finally reached the lowest point of the known portion of the caverns (the caverns are still being explored even to this day), the tour guide wanted us to experience first hand the total absence of light. Even though she turned out the lights for probably less than 30 seconds, I became anxious and I grabbed on to my mom’s hand for comfort. To this day, I can still “feel” the blackness. It had form and shape and oozed over me like some creature from the depths. I felt like I was suffocating. Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it another second, the tour guide flipped the lights back on. We finished our tour with a picnic lunch in the caverns and a ride up an elevator to the surface.
What is my point in telling you this story? I haven’t thought about this trip in decades, but just yesterday the memory of it percolated to my consciousness when one of my online writing colleagues offered this prompt about descending into The Tholos, an ancient building in Greece, a place with restorative power. At the time, my descent into the darkness of the Caverns was simply a vacation experience; today I draw upon it for lessons in coping with the dark times that descend from time-to-time.
There is a need to go into the darkness so we can experience the beautiful and awesome things that reside just below the surface. We need to experience the Darkness so we can better appecreciate the Light. When we go through dark times, we can experience the blessing of reaching out and taking another’s hand to guide and comfort us. If you are going through a dark time now, know that always, ALWAYS, the light will come back on.
It is the way of things.
Lori G. (c) 2008
Images by Peter Jones through the courtesy of the US National Park Service.
Basho was a famous Japanese poet. Take a few minutes a step into his world:
Lori G. (c) 2008
If you need a bit of a breather from the hustle and bustle of your day, take a virtual stroll through my friend Grace’s garden. It will truly soothe your soul:
Lori G. (c) 2008
Madrona is a vernal marsh which means that it is dry as a bone in the summer and fall, but when the winter rains come, it fills up and becomes quite lovely. The amazing thing is that it is smack in the middle of a urban setting. There is a giant shopping mall across the street.
L.Gloyd (c) 2008
Sometimes our continuing existence on this old world seems so hopeless when I listen to dire news reports on global climate change, the pollution of the our planet, and the rape and destruction of the natural realm. But, I had reason to be cheered this weekend when I heard a news report that the US Department of the Interior is proposing to remove the Brown Pelican from its endangered species list.
Forty years ago you would almost never see a pelican. Extinction loomed on the horizon for this magnificent creature, due primarily from the use of DTT pesticides. Today, there are over 600,000 pelicans, enough to insure the survival of the species. I see one nearly every time I go to the beach now. Sometimes, I step out on faith and tell myself that maybe, just maybe, things might turn out okay for this old world after all. We can only hope.
To read the details, clickHERE.
The image is of a California Brown Pelican, a subspecies of Pelecanus occidentalis. Yes, this bird let me get close enough for this shot. A very special moment for me.
Lori G. (c) 2008
May this image refresh and inspire you.
L.Gloyd (c) 2008