Thinking of autumn

| gardening, life

A former teacher of mine asked me, “If you were a season, what would you be, and why?” I thought about it because I wanted to dig beyond the trite answers that tempted me: summer for sun, spring for new beginnings.

If I were to pick a season, it would be autumn – and not because of the breeze or the brilliant colours. (Isn't it funny that the colours are always there in the leaves, but the green must die to let the other colours show?)

I’d choose it for harvest, celebration, preparation, and the ever-present awareness of winter.

If life is a year of seasons, it might be strange that I often think of winter, and of other years I’ll never see. That’s why it’s good to do the work now: to save the seeds from what’s working well, to plan and prepare the soil so that next year’s beds can bear more fruit.

The harvest is abundant, although it might not much resemble the plans from spring. Save some for the long winter – stored sunshine and water and nutrients in a variety of forms.

There may even be just enough time to sneak in one more cool-weather crop of lettuce, which frost makes sweeter. Who knows? Start it anyway.

And then, when winter embraces the garden, let go. You have done your work. Underneath the blanket of stillness is a future you can influence but not predict.

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