After The Festive Frenzy

We’re in post-Thanksgiving recovery mode. I don’t know about anyone else but, in my home, the entire long weekend is fraught with happenings. There’s the preparing first – for company and The Meal. Overnight guest quarters readied, grocery shopping done, menus planned, house put to order etc.,. Then, between the many meals (including the big one) and all the catching up and conversations, interspersed with brisk walks, raucous parlor games like Charades, excursions to see the season’s decorations and displays ( they start earlier and earlier), the four days fly by. It’s all good and yet, once over, I’m left with a desperate need for respite – a retreat to restore my energy and find my mental balance.

As much as I adore this Holiday and look forward to it as no other, I’m always ready for a breather come Monday. The quiet of the garden beckons for a moment of rest. No work, not even a tiny bit of tidy up is encouraged. Simply the welcome embrace of a most soothing calm to enjoy.

I stand in the meadow, close my eyes and inhale deeply the crisp, cool air – like a deep cleanse, all the cobwebs in my head disappear. Suddenly, I’m made more aware of where I am and the activities going on around me.

I hear the rustle of leaves still clinging to limbs like lovers reluctant to say goodbye. The birds are very much in evidence – flashes of color brightening up the mostly monochromatic brown landscape. They’re busy chattering and winging there way around on missions only they know and are actually quite loud. In my fatigue from partying all weekend, I had failed to notice them at first!

I smell wood-smoke from neighboring houses and imagine neighbors decompressing by the fireside. The sunlight warming my face eases me into a state of bliss as I scan shrubs for the vernal promise of nascent buds. I watch squirrels hurrying around like the Mad Hatter – what are they late for? Small stirrings in the leaf litter tell me of tiny critters too busy to mind my presence. My random footfall disturbs one of the resident garden snakes; he looks none too happy to be aroused and after a brief, futile attempt at looking menacing, he slithers into a pile of leaves near by.

It had rained hard overnight so, the soil is still wet and renders the grass dewy and very green. I resist the temptation to slip my shoes and socks off and feel the earth in bare feet. But, I can imagine the tickle of squelchy, cold soil. The witch-hazel in the far corner by the woods sends out tendrils of fragrance reminding me what season it really is.

Despite the untenanted appearance, the garden is very much alive with all manner of busy. There’s a plethora of movement and sound, smells and texture. I’ve only been out here for a half hour or so but in that short time, I’ve been recharged and refreshed. Ready to get on with the demands of the day. But perhaps I’ll remain a little while longer – it just feels so good to take in all the details of Nature’s seasonal offerings. Puts into perspective what really matters and how blessed I am.

Thanksgiving is not just a day. It is always.

Note: Here are some images from my visit a week ago to the NYBG. So many ideas for creating more autumn drama in our own gardens –

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

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