Don’t deny it – you know it is. At least, I know it is by mid-August. Many people follow the calendar-marked days for when the seasons begin, but not me. I pay attention to other cues, the ones I see in nature every year. Mid-August to December is my absolute favorite time of year and here’s why.
For me, August signals the end of summer. The days are still long, but you can tell it’s getting darker earlier. The singing of cicadas and crickets gentles from the more obnoxious tones we heard throughout June and July. Here in the Midwest, the cornfields go from tall and green to flat tracts of land, corn harvested to leave behind stalks that quickly turn golden-brown.
In September, certain animals pass through our yard with increase frequency. We see more deer, hear more coyote laughter, receive a visit from the ducks and geese on their way to warmer climates, and then one last hurrah from the blue herons. Everything that was green goes golden, and the leaves will start changing before the end of the month.
This time of year, I get extra nostalgic for home. While I like living in the Midwest, I will never love it. It’s “home” in the sense that I have a dwelling built here, but my heart 1500 miles away, north and east. Still, the nice thing about Nebraska is that the seasons are similar to New England’s, if a few weeks behind. So I can almost pretend I’m where I want to be.
As far as this time of year, I think most Witches prefer autumn, wherever they live. Why do we feel this way? Various reasons, of course. For those who follow the Oak King/Holly King mythos, the Holly King defeated the Oak King at the Summer Solstice and now reigns. I tend to go with the Wheel of the Year imagery. The wheel turns to the dark half of the year. Why do I love it?
Something about the “hibernation” brings out the desire to work harder, to prepare for and push and survive through winter. The longer nights make me want to cozy up with books or family history research. Genealogy is a wonderfully productive passion that has many facets – not just finding out ancestors’ stories, but also sharing them. I love the sights and smells of autumn, from the leaves to the crackling fire on the hearth.
Daniel cooks and bakes all kinds of comfort food this time of year. Some days, I come home to cookies, pies, and breads. Maybe there will be shepherd’s pie or beef stew for dinner. Who knows? Whatever it is, it will warm me up and make me think of the times my family got together for dinner.
I love to look back on the year and see what goals I reached, and then look forward and set goals for the new year. And, on a very basic, personal comfort level, I don’t miss sweating in the heat! I think I’m actually allergic to summer, since my skin flushes the moment I step outside when it’s 80+ degrees. 😉
This turning inward is more productive and useful than the “lazy days” of summer. And while I prefer it, I recognize that we need both. Hence, my effort (is that an oxymoron?) to relax and let go over the summer months. In the fall, I don’t feel so bad about giving in to my desire to go, go, GO! Because even sitting in front of the fireplace with my laptop, working on genealogy or writing means I’m getting something done.
Of course, it’s not fall without a look at death. As a Witch, I have no issue with this. It’s going to come, eventually, and I think it’s better to look it in the face than worry about what it brings. The earth slumbers and we know its “death” is temporary. Bulbs will bloom again in the spring, leaves will return, and the long nights of darkness will give way to more hours of daylight. Many of us who identify as Pagan take this time to honor those who have passed, to visit with them, and share our remembrances.
As the Autumnal Equinox approaches, I’m not filled with dread for the coming winter – not even of the practical “Hope it doesn’t snow when I have to drive to work” variety. I’m ready to follow wherever the darkness of the days leads and come out on the other side.