Autumn Heart

DSCF0181The turning, tilting earth has brought us around once again to my favorite time of year. The light is gorgeous and my spirit feels lightened in autumn as well. The world sparkles, amber and bedewed, as though newly dipped in honey and rolled in stars each morning.

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DSCF0262The 4-leggeds and I go for long walks and sniff out miracles along the trail. One day, we pause to watch the sunlight piercing through the trees, another day, it’s spider webs clinging to the bridge, or dew on long grasses, or butterflies flitting around the purple asters. The lush viridity of past months and particular summer companions are preparing to leave our environment. Life cycles are shifting and the world feels more fragile, and therefore precious, in autumn.

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One late afternoon, I watched as the garden glowed with sparks of gnats rising against the setting sun…autumn reminds me how magical and brief, how unique and delicate is a lifetime.

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The garden continues to yield, though she’s growing tired from the energy spent to do so; still, tomatoes are collected and stored away, as are the herbs, peppers, squash, onions and carrots. Soon, it will be time to tenderly turn the plants back into their earthen bed, an activity that, like every ending, sobers the heart and invites contemplation regarding the sacred balance between loss and gratitude, planting and harvesting, life and death.

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Like a squirrel, I tend to overstock the pantry and freezer this time of year, too, always ready for desserts that perfume our home with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla, or hearty soups, and wild rice stews. It’s time to bake yeast breads and savor the smell of wood fires and apples. Of all the year’s seasons, autumn most stimulates and satisfies sensuously, or so it seems to me. The air shivers with the pungency of damp decay spiced with wood-smoke, and the leaves color our world with scarlet, gold and orange. Like the chiming of cathedral bells, bird-call increasingly resounds. Geese, ducks, and cranes flock and honk, blackbirds chorus, and crows scold and complain throughout the day. Soon enough, winter’s icy astringency will erase and muffle, utterly. Now is the time to savor these bountiful smells, tastes, colors, and sounds.

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Halloween decorations are making their way around the living room and dining room. A Wiccan friend tells me that, rather than taking offense at our Halloween witch figures, she believes crones are a fitting symbol for the year’s decline; hopefully, this is a time for rendering the year’s wisdom as well. I’m creating rituals for this…to sit with the movements and invitations of the year thus far, those both pursued and rejected. Who am I now seems a fitting question for autumn meditation, before planting the seeds of Who do I wish to become for winter’s incubation.

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My husband is adjusting to the rhythm of the new school year and, before he returns home, I’m off to teach second graders in an after-school program. Ships passing, and then mooring back together for the 7 P.M. popcorn party that the puppies anticipate every evening.

These are ancient autumn rhythms for us, this rising to gather and store, and to continue crafting a life that matters, to enter the dance of diminishing light, and to notice everything precious and brief before the dark of night rushes in, colder and closer each evening.

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Now is the time to be burnished by autumn’s golden light and hallowed by the season’s holy mysteries, honoring the gifts offered between the green life of summer and the austerity of winter. A time for counting blessings and letting them go, for gathering in and handing out, for storing memories, sharing stories, and gentling onward sacred farewells.

Blessed be, say my Wiccan friends, merry meet and merry part…and grateful be your autumn heart.

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14 thoughts on “Autumn Heart

  1. Kitty, these photos are exceptionally beautiful – full of the magic of a season turning and the low soft quality of light that autumn brings. And as always, your words seem to capture the spirit of a moment in time. Now I am seriously considering making the first hearty vegetable stew of the season, inspired by your prose 🙂

  2. hi kitty! this is katie lewin, dan’s daughter. saw this link on facebook and am really glad i checked it out! love your pictures and writing–autumn is my favorite season too :]

    • Well, hey, Katie; how wonderful to hear from you and how kind of you to take time to write a response, too: Thank you! Hope your autumn is blessed with everything you love, and sweet surprises! 🙂 Love to you and your great family.

  3. I always love your posts and look forward to them, but you have even surpassed yourself here.

    I had goosebumps reading this and looking at these amazing pictures. I especially loved the figure in the mist on the bridge, and those rolling clouds that look as though they belong on Jupiter…..wow, what an incredible pic! Rounding off with the golden rays was truly a magical touch.

    I too love autumn and have Wiccan friends who bless me with the words..”By the power of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit, all is well, and shall always be, Blessed be.” So I shall pass these on to you.

    Ah yes….a season for soups and stews….with freshly baked bread!!!xxxx

    • Thank you for visiting, dear one, and thanks, too, for your generous encouragement and compliments. Those clouds were stunning, but all show, as we derived not a drop of rain from them…but have received some, so hooray for that. We’re having what’s called an Indian Summer this next week: unusually warm and dry, after Saturday. My indoor plants are still outside, and I’m hoping they’ll agree agree to return indoors soon; they’ve had such a l-o-n-g stay on the shady deck this past summer. 🙂

      Hope your vacation is restful and fun, Snowbird, and can’t wait to hear about it when you return.

      I LOVE your friends’ blessing; thank you for sharing it.

  4. Just beautiful. I love the line “autumn reminds me how magical and brief, how unique and delicate is a lifetime.” At the center and the edges of this beautiful essay, for me, is Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall.” Like all of your writing, I can’t wait to come back and re read : )

    • I’d agree that no one captures the seasons’ and natures’ enchantment like Hopkins, Matt…thank you for your kindness and the wonderful, deep connections you always make for me when you visit. Peace to your autumn, my friend. 🙂

  5. Another wonderful post, and not surprising that the spirit of your post would be extra special if this is your favorite season. Here it is still quite summery… and summer is my favorite… but looking at your beautiful pictures, I have to say that I am very open to loving the fall as well. I loved the picture of the two dogs in the garden, with the big trees surrounding the rich grass. Wishing you a wonderful autumn, with all the water you’ve waited for.

    • Thank you, thank you, Shimon! We’ve been out of town at a cranberry festival and were very happy that a great and lovely rainfall visited our yard and gardens when we were gone. The truth is that “Now” is usually my favorite season, but I do have special affection for autumn…may your favorite summer weather continue to bless your days and know that your visits are always so heart-gladdening to me! Thank you.

  6. Wonderful photos to capture your wonderful spirit…Thank you! I am still having a terrible time with wordpress as I continue not to receive posts from the blogs I am following! Yours is one of them. It is most frustrating as I don’t have time to go to every blog I follow to see if there are new posts…It’s been almost two months now this has been going on. So if you don’t see me its because of this issue they can’t seem to fix. I may have to move my blog if this continues much longer. Anyway, glad I popped in today and found this wonder post you did! Lifted me right up. Have an inspiring Autumn Kitty and know people are thinking about you and sending love….Thank you and blessings to you all….VK

    • Oh, VK, how wonderful to hear from you. I, too, have been struggling a lot with wordpress lately. I almost didn’t post this, it was taking so long and then not cooperating…did something change at WP recently? Many of those blogs I’m subscribed to have been shooting into my spam box, or not coming to me at all unless, like you, I seek them out, which is very weird… At any rate, I’m happy you visited and I can wish you a very blessed autumn as well. Joy and gentle peace to your own great spirit!

      • Hi Kitty….Try going into your settings and looking. I discovered somehow my receiving emails was turned off instead of on. Don’t know how it got that way and I rechecked the status of all the blogs I follow to make sure they were turned on as well…Once I reset that email to allow them, all was fine again. It’s taken almost two months to straighten this out. Good luck. I don’t know what has happened at WP…For now things seem good again….Hope you get things squared away. Happy day to you and of course happy Autumn 🙂 VK

        • Thank you, VK! I hope this helps and will keep checking into why some of those posts to which I’m subscribed keep going into “Spam.” Peace to your week; as always, I appreciate your gifts and the many ways you bless the earth. 🙂

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