It’s solidly dark in the mornings here when we get up, and increasingly gray and overcast into the afternoons. Time to dig out the sweaters and umbrellas and woolly socks. Now that we are well beyond any kind of back-to-school schedule at our house, noticing the seasonal change has more to do with light and darkness, the flocking of birds, and watching the trees pause their summer exuberance and slip into Fall colors. I need to get outside and pick the last tomatoes, ready or not.
Putting the garden to bed is now one of my most important Fall rituals. Composting tomato and squash vines, spreading mulch, and snuggling downed leaves around tender plants gets me, as well as the yard, ready and in tune with the new season. I also compulsively pick up bright leaves to press and any good-looking acorns and chestnuts that decorate nearby sidewalks. I can’t resist palming their smooth surfaces and pocketing the best specimens; they fill bowls at home, a reminder of the bounty found everywhere this time of year.
Another Fall ritual I don’t always manage in time, is to go down to the bay and watch the returning salmon swirling in small groups, readying themselves to head upstream for spawning. Arriving from their sojourn in salt waters, they transform themselves for the swim in fresh waters; the change from silver to red being the most visible from my viewing platform above the water. I am always surprised by how big they appear. Although elated to see them again, there is poignancy in witnessing this iconic Northwest passage. They haven’t quite finished their journey, so crucial to the continued survival of this beleaguered species, but the hungry seals are circling in anticipation of a feast. I was anxious to urge them onwards.
Fall is full of contradictions like that: death and rebirth, loss and return, a turning inward and time of reflection. A treasury of harvest, a culmination of growth composting back to earth, a piling up of nutrient riches for another Spring. My favorite season!