Or as I like to think of it: the sentimental season.
Wow, it sure has been an interesting few days around these parts. It doesn't take much to put my brain into complete nostalgic over-drive during autumn. This time of year I find myself thinking about a handful of topics in constant rotation: past relationships, growing older, and farming.
Many of my relationships have started in the fall, so I tend to feel this strange mixture of hope - maybe I'll find someone great (and lasting) this fall - and utter, ultimate, jaded despair. Ha! How's that for honest? There are definitely relationship memories that are specific to this season - first kisses on hay bales, walks under a harvest moon with thermos' of steaming hot cider, the boy who introduced me to Neil Young, whiskey-inspired confessions in the pantry (yes pantry), and a million other mundane but important snapshots of past autumn loves.
I also think about the big life questions: who do I want to be? What do I mean when I say I want to be "useful" and "good" in the world? What is enough for me? What is success? Failure? How much is ego driving my desires? How much is fear holding me back? I spend a lot of time in the autumn sitting and thinking about how little I know.
Farming is the strongest memory that visits me during the fall. Six years ago when I was farming, this was the point in time when I actually, finally felt like a farmer. I remember waking up while it was still pitch black outside and working up until the point it was dark again. I can almost feel the soreness of my muscles and the fatigue that you couldn't give in to because it was so close to being over - you were this close to the season's end. When I close my eyes, I see myself harvesting broccoli in an early season snow, wearing thick, leather gloves to protect my hands from the chill. I vividly recall pushing a cart full of carrots up a hill and marveling at how my arms were - for the first and only time in my life - stronger than my legs. I remember enjoying the harvest so much more during the fall than at any other point in the season- seeing the bounty as I visited the root cellar and thinking to myself "we created this." The crispness, vitality, and peace of that time is something that brings me great joy, but also haunts me a bit. The memories come flooding back to me and I'm not sure if I feel closer to it or further away.
So, today, after discussing much of this with a dear, dear friend, I went out to my backyard and gathered the last bits of the season in the closest thing I've got to 'the farm.' I wanted to remember how I am trying - in my urban life after the farm - to not lose this part of myself:
It was a little pathetic, especially compared to the 20 pumpkins from last year and the hundreds on the farm, but I loved going around the yard and finding small treasures here and there. There are enough green tomatoes for a green tomato pie (don't knock it till ya try it), a handful of rainbow carrots, a few delicata squash, some last eggplant, a few onions, a couple of beets, and some awesome decorative gourds. Yes, I promptly arranged the gourds in a bowl in my house.
Then, I took the leaves from throughout my garden and stuffed them into one of the many house-warming gifts my Mom gave me when I bought old blue three years ago:
This reminds me so much of my childhood home, it tugs at my heart a little.
It's the sentimental season though, so it's only fitting.