There’s something about fall and the autumnal equinox in particular. Although most shudder to think about the season after, autumn provides reprieve from the summer’s heat, and the bounty of the harvest. It’s the first inkling to prepare, to stock up for winter, to pull out the long sleeved coats and reluctantly put away the sandals. Some start realizing what’s ahead when the shadows start to lengthen in August. Others wait until the first frost to scramble to get the furnace filled and find the cold weather gear.
I’m right in between. The modern conveniences of our time have let us wait until the harvest is nearly passed before rushing to prepare for the first snow. Most people need the leaves in full color and the complaints about darkening evenings in order to realize that yes, summer is on its way out, and winter lingers over the horizon.
Autumn is about transition, and being ever fluid to the changing forces of nature. While fall is consistent in its ability to change, being ever in tune to the shift in the earth, it is often unpredictable, with cold temperatures one day and summer heat the next. No sense taking the changes for granted. They will happen regardless.
It’s this alteration of nature that I align with. I myself am hot one day and cold the next, happy for fall’s arrival and dreading winter’s chill.
The dark is one of the most challenging aspects to deal with. It’s a silence like none other when the force of the night rests heavily on the day’s shoulders. When windows are closed and the leaves are off the trees, we’re protected by the house walls and the furnace heat, but the sounds are muffled by the windows. We’re exposed more to our neighbors with the leaves off the trees, and yet at the same time the wildlife is revealed more fully. It’s like nature is asking us to strip ourselves bare and protect us at the same time. It’s a lot to ask of creatures that are fragile in so many ways; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our underbelly gets revealed in the transition to winter, pulled away from comfort and relying on nature more than ever for survival. Without her resources, the trees and streams for shelter, without the food we’ve gathered in the cold cellar, we won’t be able to sustain the life throughout the cold season. And that’s the lesson she asks us to learn every year. She wants us to realize that in order to survive, we have to go to our roots and find the strength that lies deep within. We won’t get through the snow and the dark without it.
So this year as the equinox transitions from one season to the next, keep that in mind even as we have to rely less on nature for survival, we still need to learn those lessons and hold on tight to each other. We need to rejoice in the harvest and know that by hunkering down and bundling up, we will make it through to Gaia’s gift of the spring.