This Annual Dusk

This Annual Dusk

Amidst cold flames
licking crisp, blue skies
Tawny hues flickering
amongst the bronze
I stand separate
observing and alone.

Mesmerized by the bees
They urgently siphon
every last drop
from the cellars of asters
I remain rooted.

I should follow
their example, get busy
but I cannot
my spirit is unwilling
All around
bustle the squirrels
and retreating birds
All are busy but not I.

With the fading
of the garden
goes my desire
to seize the moment
To pick up summer’s debris
make ready for approaching winter
invest soundly in next spring
This season that serves
all others.

As weary as I am
of dog days
I’m loathe to let them go
I cannot prepare
for frosty nights
I shrink from the cold fingers
that wait to grasp
this piece of my heart
and keep it suspended
in time.

I wrote those lines exactly two years ago. It is so hard to ignore the shortening days. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. However, I’ve begun practicing what I call “seasonal mindfulness”. With or without my consent, the turning of seasons is inevitable. So, I told myself to take my cues from my favorite teacher – my garden. It performs exactly as it ought no matter what comes its way. Resilient, adaptable, stoic and practical, nature makes each change a celebration. Every happening is an opportunity for new growth.

As I settle on a bench, I’m acutely aware of the russet hued leaves swirling around till coming to a rest at my feet. Squirrels ignore me as they charge past preparing for leaner times. No doubt I will find some of their treasures when I get around to emptying the large pots later in the month. The sedums are covered in bees these days. So focused are they that some forget to return to their hives on time; they spend the cool nights motionless on the flowers till the morning sun warms them up. Overhead, I watch flights of birds journeying their way south. Those are the wise ones who know to leave before it gets too late. None of these busy souls are lamenting the passing of summer. They are simply in the moment. I see that if I want to be mindfully present, I need to show up.

Life all around me has accepted the change. I follow suit. I inhale deeply – the air is edged lightly with crispy, cold crystals. I’m ready to join the autumnal do si do with my fellow creatures of the garden. I acknowledge the end of summer as I cut back plants, clean out beds and rake fallen leaves. As I work, I review the garden – did I accomplish what I wanted to do, was I true to my principals, could I do something differently? I get ready for winter ahead with the picking of apples from the espaliered trees yet to shed their foliage, drying bunches of herbs for stomach warming stews, canning the last of the tomatoes, freezing batches of basil pesto. The canicular days to come will be filled with memories of summer. As I plant the bulbs all over the garden, I’m brimming with hope – spring will return, light will linger longer and color will once again suffuse the somber, winter weary landscape.

I enjoy making a ceremony of welcoming autumn. My chores in the garden are rituals. They bring my mind to the present. As I savor the last of the figs and move the trees into sheltered space, I marvel at the warm, vivid colors of the leaves. The ornamental grasses rustle and wave seed heads that shimmer in the late afternoon light. I’m struck anew by the beauty of the season. There is a sacred silence within my heart.

In living in rhythm with nature, I honor the gift I’m proffered – the continuing chance to re-do, to improve, to grow. Myself as well as the garden.

Apples awaiting

Apples awaiting


Bulbs awaiting

Bulbs awaiting


Figs awaiting!

Figs awaiting!


Glorious autumnal colors. At NYBG.

Glorious autumnal colors. At NYBG.

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