As Summer winds down, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. Most people find Summer relaxing, invigorating, and free. They come alive and spend their days immersed in the vitality and life that surrounds them. I, however, find myself shutting down. It is too much of a break from the daily rhythm that flows for the rest of the year, too much freedom. When Autumn comes and the rest of the world slows down in preparation for Winter, I finally come alive.
Autumn has always been my favorite season. I find the chill in the air more invigorating than the heady green smell of Spring. The crispness calms me and allows the creative juices to start flowing freely. As nature starts shutting down, I find the starkness that is left behind more inspiring than a forest dressed in its best greens. How is it that I find myself at a point of personal rebirth when the natural world around me is dying?
It is simple really. Just as all of the plants are releasing what is not needed and storing what will be essential to their survival and rebirth in the Spring, I, too am collecting what I need to get through the Winter. I am releasing the blockages and allowing my senses to collect and store up all that will be needed to inspire and ignite me through the dark, cold days of Winter. The sparseness of the landscape allows me to collect, calm, and organize my thoughts and my goals.
It starts with the celebration of Michaelmas at the end of September. A time when, just as the archangel Michael fought the dragon (Lucifer), we are reminded to go inward and fight our own personal dragons. By allowing ourselves to let go of the bad we can then move forward towards the good. This is a big and important lesson to teach our children. In order to move forward you have to release the past. My boys are young, but we often talk of letting go of things at this time of year. Just as the trees release their leaves in the wind with faith that they will grow anew in Spring, we too must let go and trust that we will continue forward on our path.
Here in Canada, Thanksgiving follows close behind, happening in the beginning of October. It is a time of reflection and a reminder of all the good things we have in our lives. It is easy in this time of encroaching darkness to focus on the fading light, the stress of the upcoming holidays, the obligations that lie ahead. Instead, I try and take a breath and draw strength from all that is good around me.
A walk in nature is where the final part of my rebirth really happens. It has always been my “go to method” for dealing with stress, it puts me back in touch with the earth, with nature, and with myself. Usually it is meditative, and with each step I settle into myself and can see clearly the things which had once been cloudy.
Depending on when in the season you go, the forest will either be dressed in its most colorful display for its final dance of the season, or you will find it a skeleton of its former beauty, with scraps of its once beautiful costume lying beneath your feet. Both stages move me in ways that no other time of year can. Someone once told me that if you open your eyes to the changes around you then you will be inspired to change as well. Go into the forest, hear how quiet it is now that the songbirds have gone. Let yourself explore what the trees look like without their leaves. Breathe in the smell as the earth takes back the plants and leaves. Allow yourself to connect to the barebones of the earth.
As the light continues to fade, I return to the forest often to draw from it the energy it is releasing and by the time we retreat indoors for Winter, I will be fully charged and filled with new life. I realize we all have a time in the year that we connect with, one that we feel the most growth. Most mimic the world around them and drink in the life that is blossoming around during the Spring, but for me, I take in the energy the Earth gives off as it is retreating.
I am looking forward to this rebirth. My thoughts and creativity are in need of a recharging and I wait in anticipation as the leaves start to hint at their change and the smell of woodsmoke starts to fill the early evening air. Autumn is arriving and with it a new year for my soul.
Jennifer DeWolfe lives in Wakefield Quebec, where she is a homeschooling, work at home Mom of two boys and wife to one great husband. She is the co-creator and author of Mariposa Forest. She blogs about homeschooling, crafts, and life at Dark Blue Dragon.