I’ve said this before- I’m a summer gal. Being a teacher for all of my professional life (aside from now) has left some indelible marks on me: being chronically on time, planning things in the Type A fashion which I am not, living for the summer, and having mixed feelings come fall.
There is still this sense of both excitement and dread when summer winds down.
I believe part of that is built into our DNA. In many parts of the world, for millions of years, winter was a time of concern. Will there be enough food to last till spring? Will there be enough wood to keep us warm and to cook with? How bad will the weather be? Who will get sick, and will the weaker people in the community make it through this winter? This would naturally cause a sense of anxiety as we slide into fall, knowing the fall is the last chance to prepare.
Prepare. That is the energy of fall for me.
Luckily for most of us, we have the luxury of convenience and technology to avoid the life-or-death issues that winter can bring. But that comes with a cost. In the age where we can have any food at any time and can stay warm without stockpiling wood, we have lost the connectedness with the land that is so crucial to our humanity.
Which is why I am an advocate of living with the seasons.
There are subtle and not so subtle shifts that occur with each new season. These affect us on a number of pathways: physically, socially, and psychologically. Yes, I believe we should be eating what is available in the geographic area you live when it is available/ growing, but there’s more to it than that. You may find yourself withdrawing from people more during different times of the year, or you might find yourself craving more social interaction. You may also find the need to let yourself rest more, or notice that you are doing a lot more introspection than you normally would. All of these sensations can cause unease if we don’t understand why we feel them; it’s important to know that different seasons will affect us in different ways, and that it is OK- natural, actually.
I could talk a lot about the importance of living with the seasons, but while we are on the cusp of autumn here in Maryland, I want to focus on some elements to pay attention to for this coming time of year.
Alright, as much as I poo poo the pumpkin spice stuff, I LOVE IT. I can’t help myself- sometimes I’m basic. That, to be honest, is one of my favorite things about fall. That and being cozy. And Halloween.
Prepping for Winter
What I often forget about autumn is how much abundance there still is out in the garden. LOTS of food and herbs are still growing. The focus of fall should be a bit on preparation, and while we’ve still got what’s left of this summer yang energy flowing through us, we should be using it to stockpile what we need: can or freeze fresh produce, chop wood for that cozy fire (even if you don’t need it to heat your house) and wrap up any projects you’ve still got lingering around since the summer. Winter is NOT the time to start working on new big projects. Winter is a time of rest. Now is the time to work. As the days get shorter we’ll be drawn inside, so get out there and enjoy the longer days, cooler weather, and all the wonderful smells, sounds, and feels of fall.
Another part of living with the seasons involves looking at nature. Take a cue from our animal and plant friends: it’s all about collecting the good stuff and diving into our roots. Animals are busy collecting food for winter. Plants are drawing that energy inward to the roots as they hunker down before emerging again in spring.
Prepping Your Body
We want to prep the household for the upcoming winter, but we need to prep our bodies, too. We are WAY more susceptible to illness in winter when we’re all inside sharing germs, and our immune systems are going to need to be super strong. Can’t do that when you’re already in the thick of winter! You need to prep your body NOW so that you don’t get sick so easily come winter.
How do you stay healthy? Not by sterilizing everything! You can’t even really do that! You can’t control your environment 24/7, but you CAN control yourself. Eat food that actually contributes to wellness: whole food, plant-based is still the best. Make sure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need, by way of food if possible. My favorite way to know what foods to eat in the season I’m in is to visit the farmer’s market. Get sleep so your body heals. Drink enough water. Incorporate those antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial herbs and food into your diet. Keep your gut flora healthy- eat those fermented foods and take your probiotics! Keep it moving! Don’t start getting all sedentary on us yet- we’ve still got a bit of time till winter is here. Now is also a good time if you like to do a gentle cleanse to get the body ready for winter’s heavy foods.
Fall is also a time for gathering with friends and family. Western tradition incorporates many holidays into this time of year: Lammas, Mabon, Halloween, Samhain, and Thanksgiving. There is an emphasis on bounty, giving thanks, and sharing with others.
To me, fall is a shifting season. It’s taking me from one extreme to the next. It allows me to get my ducks in a row so that I’m all set in winter. Things are starting to wind down in some areas; most of my herbs and veggies are slowing down or have stopped. And I’m thankful for that, even though I very much enjoy it. I’m happy for a little rest moving forward. And when you feel like you need that rest- you should take it. We don’t listen to our bodies as much as we need to. The season for slowing down and resting is coming, so it makes sense that you might feel that even before it’s actually here.
Autumn does make me a little sad. I love my green trees, and long days, and bathing in the sun. The leaves falling always give me a slight sense of looming death. I know. Very dark. I hate saying goodbye. But my body is starting to crave a little more meat than usual, a little heavier meals, a little more sleep. Perhaps a dark beer!!! I feel it coming, and I’ll be happy with my cup of spiced whatever and a blanket on the couch by the fire.
If you're interested in learning more about seasonal transitions, check out the classes I'm offering which will go into more depth about some of the areas listed above. Click Here to see what's up.