The cold, though not unexpected, is startling. It feels good to walk through fields that have provided nourishment of all sorts to beings of all kinds. Ice clings to stalks of bowing grass. Every step crunches in the stillness of freeze. Muted colors announce themselves in burnt umber, dark brown, and burgundy, reminding us that … Continue reading In the Shadow of an Old Barn
This is an excerpt from Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth, available now wherever books are sold.
Here we are once again. It’s fall in the Midwest, and the weather is changing. The leaves of the maple trees out back are at their peak of orange and yellow vibrancy, and the backyard seems to glow with a quality of light that is unique to this time of year. As I walk down the steps to the lake, leaves crunch under my feet and the air feels cooler than it has in months. We still haven’t had a hard freeze, which is unusual and perhaps yet another sign of a climate that is getting increasingly unpredictable. But regardless the mild weather, the earth is sloughing off her summer skin and slowing down in preparation for what is to come. Winter’s cloak of stillness will be here soon enough.
Though the seasons change every year, sometimes it’s easy to forget the lessons we can glean from this age old rhythm of the planet. Each season has its wisdom, and autumn is no exception. There are lessons to be learned if we let the earth teach. Continue reading “Lessons of Autumn”
This Autumn, let something die. I first read that phrase by Asia Suler a few years ago. Every time I read it again, it makes me wonder why we are so afraid of death, of letting things go, of decline, of allowing something that has run its course to fade into whatever lies beyond. It … Continue reading Let Something Die
It’s getting to be peak autumn color in Minnesota this week, and everywhere you look, it’s gorgeous. The leaves in the back of my house are blazing yellow and orange, and they create an impressive reflection on the lake when the light is just so and the air is still. It’s kind of like the water is on fire with the vibrancy of the season. Of course, this time of intense beauty is fleeting, only lasting a few weeks each year, but then again, it does come back around every year. We just have to make a point to pay attention to it when it does show up. It’s always interesting to me that such intense beauty can co-exist so easily alongside the things that shake us to the core.
It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.) People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament. But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well. Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”
Five hours west of here, indigenous people from 300 tribes around the world have gathered in prayer and protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Each week more tribes announce their solidarity with the people of Standing Rock, offering up songs of healing and prayers for the protection of the earth’s water. A fellow resident of the St. Croix Valley took her three young daughters to deliver winter supplies to those who have put their regular lives on hold to stand in protection of this essential Missouri River watershed. Others remain committed to oil and the short term promises it makes. Tension builds, and armed police continue to gather in opposition while the main steam media remains quiet.
The wind has been blowing the last few days, ushering in the colder air from the north to let summer know the time for blossoming and long days of outdoor warmth are over. The forecast for tonight calls for a freeze, and I brought in all of the vegetables and fruits that still lingered in the fields. The water from the hose I used to wash the leeks and potatoes felt like ice, and I moved quickly to get the job done. Continue reading “A Hidden Wholeness”
It has been a busy month. September always seems to mean racing to prepare life for winter. Of course we could do some of these things before we HAVE to do them, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way, year after year. So we fly around in September getting fire wood cut and stacked, filling fuel tanks, mowing the grass a few more times, winterizing motors, cleaning the chimney…..the list is long, and usually expensive. Things feel really hard, tempers are short, work days seem long and sometimes it feels like a hopeless cause to try to change anything at all. But here we are on the first day of autumn, and the list is getting done. We have firewood stacked, the septic is pumped, the furnace is tuned up, and we still have funds to the other things we need to do, even if we won’t be going on any European vacations anytime soon.
Autumn is a paradox. The leaves are changing, the harvest is coming in and the warmer temperatures this year mean the blackberries are still putting new blossoms on their brambles. There is vibrant tree color alongside the withering of the annuals I planted in the spring. There is the fresh possibility of a new school year alongside the mourning of summer’s sense of freedom. There is hope for a late freeze alongside a yearning for the day the temperature drops far enough to bring many kinds of garden work (and allergies) to a halt. We feel like we will never have enough, yet we always have more than we need. Continue reading “Autumn’s Paradox”