An ode to Autumn - an essay on mindfulness & being in the season you are in

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Across my garden I see the shifts in the season. The small persimmon tree is the first to colour, then loose it’s leaves, followed slowly slowly by the large persimmon tree, that always seems weeks behind in it’s colour stories. I love this, the way that in our garden the change in season from the heights of Summer to the glow of Autumn is an evolving wave of colour-shift. Then to Winter’s quiet bare branches.

The deep glossy green leaves turn golden, red, russet, brown, yellow. Slowly the tree is turning inwards, removing the layers – the leaves – that it won’t need during the colder months; conserving its energy. A tree knows, from deep in it’s seed memory, that Winter is slower for growth, less food and warmth, so it slows down it’s growing cycles, little by little, over the coming weeks the tree stops or slows down the production of chlorophyll which means green leaves become those glorious Autumn hues.

 Living in this climate, where Winter becomes an antidote to Summer’s heat and humidity, we sometimes forget to slow down, to turn inwards, to rest and nourish ourselves. Autumn is the gentle middle of wondering what day will be the last frolic in Summer’s ocean, or finally having a cool breeze and the vague thoughts of gathering firewood.

Our Winter nights are soft and cool, our mornings rarely frosty, but we aren’t dictated by a deep cold like other regions, and sometimes I think we forget the importance of letting go, of easing gently into the seasonal changes. Of creating some rituals or rhythms with which to guide us through the longer nights.

By noticing and reflecting upon the seasonal changes within our gardens and landscapes, we can become more attuned to watching the seasonal growth or decline in our own selves. To accept that the shortening days are coming, means we can learn to accept the flow in our personalities, our work output, our energy levels. To recognise that seasons move less with the calendar and more with a wild cycle shows us that our human nature can ebb and flow, without criticism, guilt or timetables.  

Learning to read the trees, the way they let go of unneeded leaves or branches can be a beacon of understanding for allowing ourselves to let go of things that no longer serve us. Slowly choosing what emotions, actions, reactions, projects, even friendships we might be clinging to and knowing that by shedding our leaves we’re giving ourselves the extra energy to nourish ourselves through the colder leaner darker months.

Standing bare-branched in the Winter sky brings about a new sense of freedom in yourself, giving space for the emerging growth and blossoming of Springtime.

Honouring the Seasons of our self is, I believe, a vital part of being gentle with who we are. Allowing the lulls to fit into the busy moments, not taking on society’s expectations to continually hustle and keep going. Stopping to notice, to appreciate, to simply sit with the silence, stillness, raw bareness that Winter can bring is a beautiful space to be in.

Create time right now, at this Solstice - as the pendulum is poised and swinging back towards to light and longer days (or shorter days for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere) - to write new light’s wishes and goals, to set intentions for Mother Earth’s new year. Stand in your garden, talk to your plants, remind them that the warmth and sun is coming back soon.

I’d love to hear what you do to set new intentions, your rituals or rhythms at the changing on the seasons - be they nature’s seasons or your personal seasons. Please do leave me a comment below (it makes me feel happy to read your messages). xx

This was originally published, with some alterations, in Paradiso magazine Autumn issue.