This morning, while the air was still cool, the scent of snow drifting down from the mountains, I wander into my autumn garden. There are still flowers blooming, an indigenous sunflower fiercely yellow and vigorous in the cool weather, some lanky hollyhocks, the lavender stocks shed petals, bees fly protectively around their clustered flowers drinking the last of the season’s nectar. I search in the vegetable patch for the last of the beans. There are a few bunches hiding in the yellowing heart shaped leaves. And of course the ubiquitous nasturtiums, opening up lip stick blossoms every morning. High in the apple tree which has now dropped this year’s abundant crop of Gravenstein’s, I spot some bean vines that have escaped the confines of the bamboo stalks I gave them in the summer to climb up. The vines taunt me with large clusters of green and purple pods.
I hunt around on the ground for apples that haven’t corrupted yet-most when I turn them over have tiny slugs the size of a baby finger nail eating the mealy flesh. I don’t bother throwing the slugs out of the garden, there are too many and besides they are probably doing some good in this contained chaos that I call my garden.
This Sunday I will dig out the last of the zucchini vines and pick the biggest, sharpest tasting garlic bulbs to propagate for next year’s crop. As I walk back into the house with my garden basket full of unripe and cracked tomatoes, I detour by the Samhain (pagan celebration of autumn, later called Halloween by Christians) bon fire site. The metal is starting to rust out at the bottom of the iron cauldron we use for the fire. I’ll put some bricks underneath and repair it. This year I want to be dress up as someone sexy, maybe a red devil temptress. I will be a risible Jessabelle at my age- the image amuses me.
I believe that everyone benefits from a garden of some kind. When I lived in the city I always chose apartments with big balconies where I kept a potted garden of flowers, herbs, vines and succulents. In one balcony which overlooked the ocean, I planted a red maple tree for shade. I still love container gardening, even now that I have almost 1/3 of an acre. The controlled environment of keeping plants in pots is satisfying and requires less weeding. On my eastern balcony, I planted fragrant flowers which bloom, and scent at different times of the day and night- carnations and sweet alyssum for early morning , heliotropes for noon ; 4’o;clocks for late afternoon, night secreted stock and nicotinia for evening. One night last summer, I came out to my balcony to find a monster moth feeding on a large container of flowering basil. It was as big as a humming bird and seemed utterly unconcerned about my following it around and staring into its sightless eyes.
We are composed mostly of material from the plant world, even if we eat meat, the molecules we consume were first eaten by plants, then processed and passed on to us. According to World Metaphoric Transformation, we are mineral beings first, then plant beings, then animal beings-even if we are vegetarians, tiny animals digest our food in our guts. We have climbed up into this throne of survival and now, we are unsure what to do with our exalted status. Perhaps look back at this time of year with gratitude and love. And compost the old materials we no longer find useful.
At the nexus point of the changing seasons, opposites can be brought together into a greater whole. At the autumn equinox, the opposites of bringing in (harvest) and letting go (Samhein)come together. This is a good time of year to clarify what you want to harvest and what you want to let of. Then create a bigger story to live in.
1) In the next week, walk through the natural world (unnatural if that is all you have access to ) and look for messages of gratitude and hope.
2) Then also look for messages of those things you want to throw away, be gone from your life, obstacles, E.g. My omen of gratitude is the native sunflower which is still growing and flowering when all the other flowers have faded. The things I want to let of are the rotten apples in my garden.
3) Gratitude engages the possibility of attracting more of that into your life. Letting go releases those things you don’t want any more. Create a ritual for each one. This time of year, both will appear, the opposites united in the autumn festivals of harvest and death. E.g. I will pick some sunflowers and put them in my shrine as a message from the plant world- like these sunflowers I will bloom long and hardy. I will pick up the rotten apples and put them in the compost for next year’s garden. All experience can be forged into growth and enlightenment, even when its rotten.
4) If you have a Samhain bon fire, throw in objects that symbolize what you want to let go. If you can't have a bon fire outside, then burn your unwanted symbolic object inside. Then give away something sweet to young’uns. Be mindful of the metaphoric meaning of the Samhain celebrations-taking in, letting go. Who takes in? How do you know what to keep? Who lets go? How do you know what to let go? Journal, dance, sing, jump over the bon fire as an expression of triumph and resolution.