Lots of people associate the coming of cooler fall weather as a signal that summer is ending and feel a little pang of regret, when in fact, there is such an abundance of activity and living energy all around us. Squirrels are still putting away stores of food for this winter and we see the flocks of migrating birds overhead. Those lizards, turtles, frogs and toads I mentioned are all preparing themselves for the winter, digging in before it is too cold for them to move fast enough to do so. Honeybees have spent the entire spring and summer making honey to sustain them over the winter and are busy preparing their hives for their long wait until spring and its flowers return.
If you take a ride in the country in September and October, notice that the cows and horses in pastures are becoming shaggy as they put on their winter coats. Even your dog or cat's coat will begin to thicken in anticipation of winter, even if he/she is indoors most of the time. You can't fool Mother Nature.
The landscape is probably the most obvious change we see in the fall. Changing colors of the leaves on the trees, pumpkins that were green one week and turning orange the next start appearing in the fields, summer flowers giving way to those that bloom in the fall. There is an astoundingly beautiful vine that grows wild here at the Farm and we have trained several over fences and trellises so that we can enjoy them. It is called "Virgin's Bower" and is a wild clematis, covered with tiny white flowers that look like tiny lacy crosses and smell like heaven, sweet and spicy at the same time. Sometimes when I walk out onto the front porch the scent of its flowers is almost overwhelming, yet incredibly delicate at the same time. The flowers are very short lived but the vines are strong and almost invasive if not moved in the right direction. This makes me think about the transitory nature of beauty and how our culture is addicted to the physical, when it is the underlying character of a person that sustains and how neglected that aspect of humanity has become in so many of young people. (It is very easy for me to become philosophical on the farm. Sometimes it is a little bit weird to constantly see parallels between Nature and humanity but mostly it is enlightening because it reaffirms to me the the common thread that runs through everything. We have to care for each other and for our mother, the Earth, because it is all is connected and if we neglect or abuse one, we do the same to ourselves. )
One of my favorite fall items are magnolia pods, which are bursting forth right now. Magnolia trees are unusual in that their seasons are opposite of most trees. Magnolia flowers have very aromatic flowers that open in early summer and are huge, about 5-6 inches across when fully open, yet so delicate that if you touch the petals, them almost immediately turn brown. Magnolias lose their leaves in the spring, not the fall and their seeds burst forth from hard dry pods in the fall. The pods are like a cross between a pineapple and a pine cone and when the seeds are ready, little pockets burst open and push out these intensely shiny bright red seeds that stay attached to the pods with a tiny filament so that they don't fall to the ground until the perfect moment. Birds are attracted to the bright red color. (see the picture at the top the page.)
Right outside our kitchen window is our venerable magnolia, which is about 80+ years old. We call her "The Tree of Life" for all of the activity that occurs in, around and beneath her. She is old, with spreading low branches that touch the ground. About 40 feet up, there is a big gap at the top where a huge branch broke during an ice storm several years ago, yet she is still incredibly beautiful. Our chickens and guineas roost high up in the branches, they scratch up bugs from under the fallen leaves and get out of the weather under the shelter of these low branches, which touch the ground. I can stand at the sink in our kitchen and watch birds come for the seeds or see our hens and their tiny new chicks scratching up bugs for breakfast, all under the protection of this tree, while I do something as mundane as wash the dishes. It really puts things in perspective for me as I am reminded of the delicate balance of nature and the connectivity of everything on this planet. Life is like a waltz with the Universe and every day, I am grateful just for having been asked to the dance.
Days like today make me feel humble and so very grateful for my life. Stepping outside the backdoor, just now, I looked at the clearing sky, intensely blue with white clouds moving by at what appears to be a slow drift, but which I know are moving like a freight train and that puts things into perspective for me. Everyone looks at their life from their own angle and I would never tell anyone how they should or should not view the world around them. I will, however, relate what there is in my world as I observe, reflect and weigh what it means to me. We are surrounded by miracles every day, yet fail to see them for what they are.
Too many of us expect a miracle to be dramatic, flamboyant, exciting or awe inspiring. It seems that in our "bigger, better, faster, more" society, we have come to believe that a miracle can't be a miracle if it isn't described by those adjectives. Yet there are simple and quiet miracles that surround us everywhere, every day if we will only open our hearts and eyes to them. The fact that birds migrate is a miracle. The fact that the lizards, turtles, frogs and toads hibernate and come back to life in the spring is a miracle. Even the simple changing of the leaves is a miracle for no reason other than just because it happens.
If you have read this far, let me say thanks for indulging me and my musings. It took a lot for me to get to the place I am in my life today and I have lots to say about it. I am on a journey and if you are reading my blog, you are coming along for the ride. Thanks, I appreciate the company.
My generation believed in peace, love and rock-n-roll, so I wish that for all of you today. And remember to look around for the miracles. I promise they are there. You just have to open your eyes.