It was my privilege to have an article published in Wildheart magazine, the tenth and final issue of this beautiful publication. The theme is "Synchronicity." My article appears below, but please find the magazine and read the other truly remarkable stories in this issue. https://wildheartmagazine.com/
Solace in Changing Seasons
Once again it is the season for harvest, and once again my hands are thrust into icy water in the kitchen sink. I slip the skins from cooked beets, pulled only hours ago from rich, dark loam. As I place the small slippery hearts into a bowl, I find myself saying to each one, thank you.
The days are growing shorter. I now get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark. Two months ago, the sun barely set at night, lolling under the edge of the horizon before popping up again. Gardens flourish under Alaska’s midnight sun. But we had our first frost last night, and it is time to put the last of the garden to bed.
I look outside my kitchen window. A mist hovers just above the ground. It has been raining part of every day for weeks. The ground is sodden, and even the air is saturated with moisture. Earlier in the summer, it was hotter and drier than nearly any season to date. The pasture was brown, the grass crispy and stunted. We scented the air for wood smoke and the threat of distant wildfires. Then, midway through summer, the rains began a deluge that produced a wetter season than nearly any to date. Now the pasture grass is green and tall. Pools of water lie in the low spots. Last week, I surprised a shorebird from the edge of one of these ponds. I’m not sure who was more startled, the bird or me.
The scent of cooking beets fills the house. It is the scent of sunshine on warm dirt. It is the scent of earth. Outside a light breeze rustles the branches of birch trees, brilliant in their autumn finery. Yet despite its beauty, fall is a melancholy season for me. It is a season of endings and departures. Cascades of yellow leaves dance and descend as trees and their leaves release the last connection between them. Each leaf is like a soul, I think, released from the life it knew to the life that awaits. Which of course is a kind of death. The old leaf eventually disappears from itself into a loam that will one day nurture another tree. Or maybe a harvest of beets.
Yesterday I spoke to the fading flowers as I emptied their pots before freeze-up. Thank you for making our summer a little more beautiful, for cheering us, especially through the many weeks of rain. Be well now as you meld into the pile with pea vines and the rest of the uprooted garden, as you become earth again, as you gather warmth not from the sun, but from composting under a blanket of snow that will surely come soon now.
Autumn is the twilight of the year, a time that always comes with a tinge of foreboding. As darkness descends, I remind myself that the departure of one season to the next is the natural rhythm of life. Who is not ready for a bit of sleep after the frenetic activity of Alaska’s sunnier seasons? Rest brings renewal. Darkness can also give way to powerful creative forces, to transformation. A womb brings forth not only change but an entirely new being. What would it be like instead to enter twilight with curiosity and anticipation?
Then I remember the first time I walked the perimeter of the little farm where I now live in Palmer. It was early spring with snow still draping the tops of the Talkeetna Mountains. The swelling buds on the birch trees were just opening to new leaves, small as squirrel ears. The wilder edge of the property appeared to be a shaded old creek bed. There at my feet, I discovered tiny purple violets growing like secrets among the emerging grass and false hellebore. Those exquisite petals, with their deep purple veins, felt like tiny assurances unfolding from the dark.
The fog on the pasture burned off as the day passed in my kitchen. I hold the ruby jars up to the sunlight before stacking them in the pantry. Seeds and soil and roots have been transformed into food that will nourish us in the winter to come. I close the pantry door and head outdoors to breathe the crisp air. There will be sustenance even among departures. And spring’s promises lie just beneath the soil where small violets wait.