Autumn is the season that seems to pass so quickly. We go from summer garden to snow and while there is so much in the middle - from winter prepping the chicken coop to closing up the greenhouse for the winter - it seems to be over so quickly.
As soon as the daylight savings happens and it is suddenly dark at 4-something every evening, we all seem to slow down. The oven is on as we start to bake, soups and stews are for dinner, and we have longer quiet nights watching homesteading YouTube channels (or Korean farmer and lifestyle channels), reading books, working on our projects, and feeling a little slower as the darkness hits our moods and sleep schedules.
I have been realizing (as we all do, I’m sure) that I am working too many hours and not taking enough time for home life, family, homeschooling, and home keeping. While most people make new years resolutions, I like to make fall and winter resolutions - and consciously work only a normal work schedule and be sure to take the time I need for short days and dark nights, making and baking, family time, and enjoying the winter snow, cold, and holiday season. I have made my playlists for the dark days - Asgeir, Fever Ray, Foy Vance, and Chill Dubstep, Zoe Keating, and so many others that make the darkness more manageable and meaningful and ping the creative threads.
I have been realizing that while I am in zoom meetings 5,6,7+ hours a day, I'm missing deeper human connection and friendships. Zoom is not that, for sure, and I think COVID has intensified that disconnect (that and our need to isolate due to immunosuppressed family). People have also been less ... nice. I miss the days of blog friends, sharing our life, and seeing what others were doing - and handwriting letters, sharing, and engaging with people. So, I am going back to the idea of sharing on the blog, snippets, life, bits and pieces, and daily life, not just information or what is deemed important enough. And sharing works in progress, and daily life.
We have some winter projects planned, and I have been stitching and working on many new creative pieces for gift making, skill building, and creative outlets. I have been working on more writing, more art, and as I finalize my PDC presentation video, will start to have webinars and podcasts on making your own permaculture life plan. We have been at the hospital a lot for A, but that should slow down to monthly now, which is better for winter. So, the focus is on food, family, fun, craft, creativity, and connection.
What have you been up to? How do you handle the transition to the dark?
I love autumn and winter. My family is amused my favorite seasons are the seasons where things do not grow, but for ice and winds. I love early darkness, a steaming mug of hot tea, cool evenings, introspection, and falling leaves. I love time for poetry, music, medicine making, stitching and drawing, thinking and resting. I love time for planning, for sketching, for wondering, for hoping. I love fleece and flannel, blankets and seeing my breath. I thank the world for summers where we can grow food, fruit, nourish and sustain ourselves. But I love having breaks and having time to change. Summer is the extrovert, and autumn and winter are introverts. Like me.
When seasons change, the light changes. As the summer transitions the light is golden. As the leaves turn gold the sky shifts. It gives us a chance to take a break. Think about what to try next. What to do differently. To plan new ideas and projects and to have time to think about them. To have a new opportunity to change, to reinvent, to try again. To rest with the darkness and rejuvenate for another year.
This autumn I am turning another year older. 54. The older women get it seems the less we talk about it, and the less we share what the number is. 54 feels a little big to me. 50 was pretty simple, but now mid-something, not early something, but halfway to the next something. No longer young, not old, in the invisible in between. Autumn is a change to start anew with the season, and start a new year. I like to live with intention and not obligation, but that can be hard to do. Once we commit to something we feel a little stuck in it, even if after a while it doesn't fit right anymore, raggedy hem, short sleeves, itchy. But we continue. Every year I get older I realize that I have less energy for those things that don't fit anymore, and that I am more aware of the ticking clock of time taking me from the things that are meaningful if something becomes not the right thing for me anymore. Autumn is a time to slow down, think about where I am, and where I want to be. To use all of the medicine I grew all summer. To drink the tea of the herbs I grew with my own two hands. To dream.
So while many people are dreading the end of summer, I embrace it. I change the pillows on the couch. I watch the sun set earlier every evening. I look at the stars. I clean the oven and pull out the blankets. I bake bread. I pound the cinnamon, ginger, clove, and allspice. I write in my journal. I stitch the fabric. I turn the pages. I gather the bark. I mark time by when I can first see my breath in the early morning. I carry my basket and gather seeds. I dig the roots of fall herbs and make root medicine. I listen to the sound of leaves under my muck boots and wrap my scarf around my neck, twisting and turning in warmth and reminders of the season to come. Welcome, September. I have been waiting for you.
It has been 18 months since we first locked down with covid. With a high risk person in the house, we have stayed home, had everything delivered, and haven't gone into any building that wasn't a hospital. Luckily we are all mostly introverted, and happy to be home. This year has been used to get a lot done at home, on our land, and to make future plans that accommodate a likely ongoing challenge of interacting in public spaces with a mutating virus and high risk people. This has been a good year to work on finishing my Permaculture Design and Advanced Social Systems Design Certification. To look at ways that we can be more self sufficient, use less resources, build in loops and cycles that are regenerative, grow more of our own food, produce our own energy, and have our home needs grow with the idea of ongoing multigenerational living.
I have realized as we are living in the world of nonstop zoom meetings, that we are losing our connections even while we see people MORE. I for one am in zoom meetings all day every day, and lately miss the days of blogging where we actually connected one on one, communicated, shared, and interacted. When we continued talking outside that one meeting, that one moment. With everyone working from home people have been working more more more and doing more more more meetings and expecting more more more results and connecting on a deeper level less less less. And, with that, people are connecting less, deeply present less. I miss the world of kindness and interactions. Some of it is that people are just overdone and burned out and are not taking the time and energy to be supportive of one another and don't have to deal with the repercussions of being unkind as when the zoom disconnects, the transaction of that energy and moment is completed. The energy of self care supercedes the energy of other people care. It is tough. Permaculture itself is about regenerative systems and relationships and community are systems just as animal waste and energy use are.
So, how do we find those positive connections with people that are people working together towards a common goal in a supportive way that also shows appreciation, respect, and understanding and that does not burn people out? That looks at relationships as regenerative and doesn't chew them up and spit them out? And, builds continuing connections?
There is a point, and that is if we are going to continue living life differently for years (and for us, being carefully protected in this house, due to our needs), how do we pivot our world, interactions, and goals to better fit our place and this land, and create meaningful connections with like-minded people that lift us up and don't tear us down?
I keep coming back to teaching. Sharing in a positive way that supports people and connects while also giving people information that they can use to create their own circle of sustainable existence, or more accurately, regenerative existence. So I have spent a bit of time this summer (after all the zoom meetings) outlining ways to share information and access to knowledge in areas that people don't talk as much about. People teach a lot about how to use herbs. People teach a lot about how to plant things. Grow things. Make things. But what about how to make community, create regenerative relationships that make communities stronger and not undermine them? How can we look at mutual aid, reciprocity, skill sharing, and social systems in a new way and give people ways to make fundamental and systemic change that impacts their whole community? I share this kind of thing one on one with people to help them work in their communities all the time, but there has to be a way to make it more community based and oriented while building upon those connections.
Abstract things are not as simple to teach - I get it. It is easier to say here is a recipe for how to make a salve. It is fixed, repeatable, the same for everyone, and easy. But, there are also 1,500,000,000 salve recipes out there. Is there a recipe for community building? Will it be the same every time for everyone everywhere? Nope. But when we want to make actual change we need to shake up the system or create a new one. So, I have been thinking of how to create something that does all of these things in an accessible way and it comes back to teaching. I want to be a part of something that might share the 1,500,000,001st salve recipe, but also share the recipe for regenerative living, livelihood, activism, simple living, reciprocity based systems, right livelihood and right relationships, and community building.
Working on it.
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, permaculturist, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.