OCTOBER | Seasonal Reflection
Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, "snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, "frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.
Autumn is a season rife with change. The leaves are turning, the temperature is dropping. The sun has passed the balance point of the Equinox, moving south along the horizon and sitting lower in the sky.
Some find these changes invigorating, while others feel unsettled. If you are feeling out-of-sorts, remember that the change of seasons can be a time that is difficult not just on our emotions but also on our physical bodies. Support yourself with warming foods and drinks. This can be as simple as adding a sprinkle of ginger to your soups or greens or making yourself a tisane with ginger, honey, and lemon instead of your usual cup of herbal tea.
In traditional cultures, the Autumn season was often associated with water. This was always a difficult association for me. Spring often seems wetter than Autumn, and Summer can bring fierce storms and a perpetual moistness in the air. Autumn in northeastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, was dry and crisp. It was my favorite season for its lack of humidity, a lack of the constant sense of water that we experienced in Spring and Summer. So why, I often pondered, was Autumn associated with water?
Pondering it, I realized the elemental association is not in reference to the weather but to an energetic metaphor. This is the season when the turning of the wheel feels the strongest. The sense of change is a constant companion as the leaves turn golden and the breezes crisp.
The Earth is giving up her fruits: blackberries ripen and apples come to market.
The flesh of the fruit is what attracts birds and animals to eat and thus scatter the seeds. These fruits hold the celebration of both death and life: they are the last gifts before the trees and shrubs go into their winter sleep and they bear the seeds for the seasons to come. All around us life is flowing... like water.
Ruminate on water, how it cycles into the air through evaporation, rains down somewhere else, where an animal might drink it (transforming it into urine, which goes into the Earth and nourishes a plant). We are made mostly of water and thus part of this endless exchange of molecules.
This is a season for poets and artists, the time when we are fully celebrating life and, yet, inexorably the wheel of the year is turning toward winter’s death. The flow of water teaches us to both receive and to let go. It teaches us, ultimately, the beauty of stepping into its flow.
My words for this season are “poignant” and “bittersweet.”
What are yours?
Let these concepts guide your thoughts today. Perhaps you’ll decide to journal on them. For me, asking myself questions like these are part of my seasonal practice, it’s how I pull the energy of the season into my everyday life, allowing my inward thoughts to reflect the doings of the outer world.
I return to these ideas over and over, season after season. My answers change and I’m sure yours will as well.
If you are so moved, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.