Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom friend of the maturing sun,
I can still remember John Keat’s poem To Autumn even though I was in school when I last read it. It stayed with me, I think, because Autumn has always been one of my favourite seasons. I was born on the Autumn Equinox and naturally, whenever it was my birthday it felt as if it was a new year – which it was in a personal way. With school starting just before my birthday – a new school year, (and then I became a teacher so had the same experience through work), Autumn has always felt exciting and rejuvenating. The smell of Autumn is so distinctive as well and smells go deep, deep down into memory, into the oldest part of the brain. I can remember smoke from gardens as people tidied them up and burned leaves and whatever. The smell of the frost in the morning also added an air of anticipation. The difference in the light, the sense of change, of stepping over some invisible threshold, has always piqued my imagination making me look forward to whatever is coming next.
This year is a BIG birthday! So big I can hardly believe I have spent so many decades on this planet. I look back at all the years of loving Mother Earth and feel very grateful that I found my way home to her. Growing up without a garden I never imagined that one day I would be growing trees and flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables; that I would be saving seed and doing my best to create a little paradise, yet here I am!
The Autumn Equinox represents the second harvest, the fruit harvest, and this year in particular, I am contemplating all I have harvested in my life and what seeds I intend to sow in the years coming. With talk of a serious recession, I am intending to sow many food seeds in 2021 because I think it is a good idea to be a little more self-sufficient. I also plan to sow metaphorical “seeds” for the things I want to see grow in the world.
After all the freshness of spring and early summer with their busy-ness and thrust to action; then the heat of summer proper, there is something relaxing about Autumn. The work is done – almost, (it’s never really done in a garden), and the sun is visibly “maturing” as the year ages. Even though some plants are dying back, there are still the joys to be had from collecting blackberries and harvesting apples from our trees. The last of the courgettes have just been discovered under a mass of leaves and there are still potatoes, kale, cabbage, leeks and chard to harvest as well as some herbs . Lots of flowers have gone to seed; Foxglove, Mullein, Rose Campion for example, although Evening Primrose is still holding its own and Fuschia is still spilling its ruby-red dancing flowers. The roses are also still going strong and I have been pleasantly surprised this year by some flowers that have just emerged. I am not sure what they are – some kind of bedding plants that were just leaves when I bought them. I was disappointed during the summer that they had not flowered and now, suddenly, boom!! – lots of bright pinks and purples.
Thinking of red, there are Hawthorn berries too. More abundance to be collected and dried for medicine.
It is during Autumn when I really feel and appreciate the abundance of Mother Nature. I feel a sense of fulfilment looking at my jars of chutneys and relishes; my dried herbs for medicinal teas and bottles and jars of medicines all supplied by Mother Nature.
There are also lots of Nasturtiums still flowering, adding their own colours to the Autumn palette. I collect them for making Nasturtium Vinegar.
After a month of infusing, this vinegar will be ready to treat sinus problems and head colds. It can also be used as a prophylactic as it is full of Vitamin C, just take a spoonful each day if you are prone to head colds or blocked sinuses. Soon it will be time to make Fire Cider Vinegar and once that happens I will know we are on our way into winter. In the meantime, I continue with the harvest and start to make soups and tasty veggie casseroles and stews.
I really love this time of year as there is so much of everything which feeds the body and the soul.
Which season do you prefer?