I grew up in northern Florida– where the fall season lasts about two weeks total and you’re lucky if you get to wear a sweater through it. Still, I remember how excited I’d get on that first day when I’d walk outside and smell the change in the air. Autumn has always been my favorite season.
In Oregon, fall is quite a big change of pace. After no rain and long, dry, summer days– fall represents our steady movement into the rainy season that lasts about eight months. People in the Pacific Northwest know that sun and heat become something of a rare luxury – and on my little farm, the days are spent putting on and taking off layers of warm clothing, muddy boots, and rain gear.
A change in seasons can stir up a lot of emotions inside of us. Fall seems to be an especially loaded season in our culture. Sometimes the change from summer to fall takes us back to a memory or reminds us of a loss. Sometimes it brings up anxiety about moving into the cold weather – which we associate with more isolation and less social outings.
Back when I lived in New York City, I remember days that were so bitter cold that it felt like your skin was starting to burn as you walked through the harsh, icy wind. Sometimes, my friend and I would play a game during these walks where we would try to list everything we loved about the winter: cozy fires, board games, hot chocolate, the holidays, mulled wine.
Looking back, that was a really effective tool for shifting perspective about the challenges of a particular season.
These days, I find myself doing something similar while trying to look to nature as a guide. The more I dive into the season of fall, and the more I realize what it has to offer and teach us about the natural life cycles, the more I can appreciate the moment just as it is. What is fall saying about life? The leaves are falling, the animals are collecting food for winter, the days are getting shorter – earth is drawing its energy inward and we naturally become more reflective.
Learning more about what the season provides us can be helpful when shifting perspective, however, the other side of the coin is that we are happiest when we just are. There is a gentle balance between reflectiveness and sadness or anxiety. Our thoughts of the past and into the future can disrupt this gentle balance of being reflective and grateful, and take us into our False Self – or our thinking self.
As I watch my horses graze –with their fur now covered in a thin layer of mud– I notice that they are not thinking about the change in season or where it is headed. They are taking subtle cues from nature about how to be, but it does not disrupt the flow of now.
How can you be more like a horse this season? How would it feel to be more present with each moment of fall?
Bringing people together for experiences on my farm is magic, and one of my absolute favorite things. Next week we will gather and learn what it means to live in accordance with the season of fall. We will experience nature as it guides us, and we will get cozy and huddle around a wonderful, seasonal meal. We will embrace autumn and see it through new eyes – not alone, but together.