“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~~ L.M. Montgomery
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
~~ Albert Camus
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
~~ Yoko Ono
Fall is not my favorite time of year. It is the sure sign that cold weather is on its way and a cold weather kind of guy I am not. I hear people say that autumn is their favorite season with its cooler weather, warm sweaters, fireplaces, apple cider and pumpkin pie.
Me? I’m a wear-as-little-as-possible-and-get-away-with-it kind of guy. I don’t know if I’m a naturist. I have no desire to live in some village someplace where clothing is not allowed. But I love weather that is close to body temperature. *shrug* What can I say?
I love swimming and shorts and tank tops and walks in the woods and camping. Can’t really do that in the fall and certainly not in the winter.
However, several years ago I did something that forever changed my life—for the good.
Always interested in studying and experiencing all kinds of spirituality, I celebrated the Turning of the Wheel with a group of my neo-pagan and Wiccan friends. What I mean is that in modern paganism, its parishioners observe eight holidays that celebrate and commemorate the passing seasons of the year—with the solstices and equinoxes and the four midpoints between. What this means is they have a holiday about every seven weeks.
Their year often starts with Yule, although this depends on their tradition, aka Midwinter—which is of course a solstice. The first cross-quarter day is Imbolc, the first day of February. Then comes the vernal equinox, often called Ostara—which some believe is the origin of the word “Easter.” Then come Beltane—traditionally the first day of Summer—followed by Midsummer (or Litha)—the longest day of the year. Next is Lammas or Lughnasadth (the first harvest festival), then Mabon, or the autumnal equinox, and finally Samhain—or Halloween.
The celebrations are rich and recognized harvests and rebirth and death and more. It was all really quite beautiful and I even hosted one of them—the summer solstice—myself.
It really was a blessing and the biggest was getting me to see clearly that passing of the year.
To me, since I was a kid, spring—with it’s riot of color and gorgeous flowers—and summer—with camp and lots of gorgeous sun—flew by at about Mach 10. Autumn and winter on the other hand went on and on and on and on an on. The cold and that not being able to play outside without heavy sweaters and coats never seemed to end. I would sit at my window, well into adulthood, staring out at the desolate snow and rain and mud and wonder if I would ever ever ever be able to go swimming again.
However what celebrating with my friends showed me was this later thought, that cold weather was eternal—just wasn’t true. When looking at the year cyclically, and in even seven week pie wedges, I saw this was some kind of illusion bedded in the fact that I love warm and hot and even very hot weather.
I now saw the year as what it was. A passage of time like any other.
And I saw the beauty in all its phases. When I knew, clearly knew that those cold parts of the year could be looked at in seven week sections, I saw that the part of the year that I hadn’t liked wasn’t forever—and when that happened I could see those times in a new light.
And appreciate them.
I had always known that, “In the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose.” I knew that my beloved flowers, the ones that made me so happy—like crocus and daffodils and tulips and forsythia and more—depended on the cycle of the year and needed to hibernate. But now I knew it! It was in my bones. I saw it all clearly as another miracle. And I could enjoy the autumn and its warm sweaters, fireplaces, apple cider and pumpkin pie—and anyone who knows me knows I love pumpkin pie! I found I could enjoy the snow, knowing it was temporary. Snow—something that had always looked like the fallout of a nuclear disaster—could now be seen as the lovely sight so many other people had proclaimed it to be.
And yes, I couldn’t get around as easy and sometimes even had to sweep up snow off the porch when some neighborhood boy wasn’t looking for extra money (I certainly don’t shovel my driveway! Girl! I am a queen! I don’t do that!), but now I knew that my beloved spring and the coming miniature iris and crocus wasn’t that far away.
So I came to appreciate and even love the passing of the seasons and the Turning of the Great Wheel.
Today I appreciate the gorgeous fall colors—red and orange and yellow and purple. I fall for the piles of leaves and know my pumpkin pie (and everything else pumpkin) and squashes are there for the taking. I value the harvests, and celebrate what this whole blog is about.
Because that is what being grateful is all about.