What a comforting time of year! The fruits of labor are laid at the table and families and friends gather to count their blessings. The trees take their final bow of the year by removing their work clothes of green and showing us the true colors underneath. Celebrations are all around, from sanctioned holidays and holy days down to the blissful bite of a freshly picked apple on a gorgeous autumn day.
Lest we allow these electric days to slide past us unnoticed in the chaos of our modern lives, consider taking a day to make a special journey to where your local food is grown. Many farms have harvest festivals of some sort, and nothing beats a hay ride through the pumpkin fields. Even when I lived in Chicago, it was possible to find a farm that welcomed visitors in the general vicinity. If you can, buy "too much" (within reason, of course) of your favorite food and figure out how to preserve it for a treat in the cold of winter. I stumbled upon a wonderful apple orchard last year where you could taste-test whatever you wanted. I was overwhelmed by the choices and asked the attendant what her favorite was. I, too, fell in love with the Mutsu (Crispin) variety, bought a peck, then diced and froze them. They still made a great pie in March, and this summer when it wasn't yet the season for apples I had crisp beauties to add to my oatmeal.
We live in a very abundant time. It is so easy to forget the rhythms of nature and essentially the rhythms of life. As much as our technological world tries to force us to forget, we are still a part of those rhythms. If we take moments here and there to reconnect, we will develop greater appreciation for ourselves and our world.
"You wonder how these things begin. Well, this begins with a glen. It begins with a season which, for want of a better word, we may as well call- September. It begins in a forest where the woodchucks woo, and the leaves wax green, and vines intertwine like lovers; try to see it. Not with your eyes, for they are wise, but see it with your ears: the cool green breathing of the leaves. And hear it with the inside of your hand: the soundless sound of shadows flicking light. Celebrate sensation. Recall that secret place. You've been there, you remember: That special place where once- Just once- in your crowded sunlit lifetime, you hid away in shadow from the tyranny of time. That spot beside the clover where someone's hand held your hand and love was sweeter than the berries, or the honey, or the stinging taste of mint. It is September- before a rainfall- a perfect time to be in love."
from the musical The Fantasticks
This is the very end of the beautiful poem, "When the Frost is on the Punkin”, by James Whitcomb Riley:
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.
(to read the entire poem, please visit http://www.bartleby.com/104/10.html)
If you are feeling blessed in this world, consider volunteering your time or efforts to help enrich the lives of others. If you are feeling unfulfilled or poor in any other way, also consider volunteering. It's amazing how powerful it can be to forge a connection that comes from the heart.
To find opportunities in your area, one wonderful resource is The United Way (http://www.unitedway.org). In my area they publish a "Wish Book" for the holidays that lists needs to be filled in the community. With a little bit of searching I'm sure you'll be able to find something in your area that offers the perfect match for you.
To find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, search the Local Harvest site: http://www.localharvest.org
To discover more about the Slow Food Movement, and see if your area has an upcoming event celebrating the local harvest, search the Slow Food USA site: http://www.slowfoodusa.org