Autumn is a wonderful time in our backyard garden. Temperatures are cooler, and there are always plenty of chores that need doing.
There are gourds and pumpkins to harvest. There are leaves to rake and add into the compost pile. There are grape vines to shape into wreaths, and if we are especially fortunate, there will be collard seedlings to set out for a springtime harvest.
It is also a season to consider bounty and prosperity as we do the last harvesting from the garden before the first frost comes. Afterwards, there will be no more fresh vegetables from the garden until early spring sweet peas.
With the season’s bounty also comes the season’s decay. The first frost takes from us those things we were saving in hopes that a few more days might bring them to ripeness. What no longer can’t be enjoyed by the chickens will help prepare the soil for the next year’s garden after being enjoyed by the earthworms.
As the days grow shorter, a certain cold sadness settled on us. Spring had passed so quickly, and then summer too. But autumn is slow, and winter slower still.
Autumn is the season for ending all we tried to start but failed to finish. It also lets us begin the forgetting and the forgiving. Often we must forget our failures and forgive ourselves for not having enough hope, not having enough faith, or just not having.
Winter will soon bring a chance for new hopes and new dreams. My chickens will cover their heads with a wing, and I will cover mine with a quilt. We will close our eyes and shut out the cold.
Then we will dream of the world and the life we want for ourselves and those we love. We will hope our distant friends in the country are as safe and as warm and as loved as we are. Our hearts will be warmed by our memories of time spent with them.
Spring will come again to our garden home. It will bring a new chance to do again what we had tried and failed to do before. And with any luck, there will be more earthworms to hunt than ever before!
But first we must wait for autumn and winter to have their turns at touching our lives.
On that lovely October day, those were only passing thoughts. I took a break from chores and sat with Blanche and Pearl. “Show me how pretty you are,” I said.
They moved from the dappled shade and into the sun. Their white feathers reflected the light most magnificently. In that one moment, I felt so rich and prosperous I couldn’t imagine wanting anything more.
Then Pearl nudged herself between the fencing and Blanche who was already as close as she could get to soak up the sun’s warmth. But Pearl was persistent, as only Pearl can be, and Blanche relented. She surrendered her prime spot and shifted over to one with less sunlight.
Pearl was happy once more. For her, it was not about having the sunniest spot. In no time at all, she was up and off and looking for something else to do. She had simply needed to feel confident in the great wealth of friendship she had with Blanche.
They were sisters and best friends, family and friends. Both at the same time. Forever. Neither could imagine anything more valuable.