This season lends itself to small journeys home. To homes of different kinds, and not necessarily to homes you might expect.
The days flow in and out of each other, and they each have their own distinct flavor. Some are still warm and balmy, and I dare to ruffle through my closet, to pull out some soft shirt or dress, grateful I can still wear it and feel warm breeze on my skin. A sweet surprise after the gradual shift requiring me to pull out some woolen socks and to sink into sweaters in the morning.
I accept my fate living here, in the rolling hills of New York. Its my home, for better or worse, and I feel a tender bit of loyalty to it, learning every day to notice its moods and temperament through the seasons. By understanding these, I can more accurately gauge what I need too. Tea, fire, scarf.
And so the balmy days ease out; and the crisper days ease in, a gradual shift in weather, a gradual glow of jewel toned leaves. An apple crisp as air. Sweet and tart and otherworldly. Its barely begun, and I try to really appreciate each day, but I know that all of a sudden the skeleton trees will appear, strong, wise, and asleep. Still there, standing sentinels. But quiet. Sometimes, too quiet.
In these days of gathering and foraging, I take note of the final moments of the living things I surrounded myself with this summer. The cosmos, shown above, grew slowly for months, and suddenly, near the end of August, bloomed in unstoppable numbers, tiny buds like sugar candy or soft pearls, and they kept growing and opening, like butterfly wings. Each flower a different shade of pink. Every time I picked a few flowers even more opened, and grew, and it seemed a never ending flow of butterfly petals and pearls, and lacy green leaves. A place for the bees.
And then yesterday I went out to refresh my vases filled with cosmos and I found a bee sitting almost still on a white flower, pollen stuck to its furry feet, and a subtle pulsing in its tiny bear-like body. It wasn't really moving. I harvested around it, left him alone. The next day I realized he had died, there on the flower. Doing his noble and kind work.
I cut the flower, and left it in my front stoop, in honor of summer. Soon after we learned that tonight will be our first frost, and I harvested whatever I could from the lavender, created my last bouquet of cosmos and Gomphrena, stashed still green tomatoes in paper bags, hoping they will ripen, and the last leaves of comfrey in the herb dryer.
And finally, trimming back the giant cosmos, their thick stalks back down to the ground.
Kind and gentle deaths of all kinds, all kinds of journeys home. and for myself, a short walk to a cozy chair or blanket, home enough for me.
Natural death, and kind as I have said, but I can't help feeling sad and worn out, watching the final blush of color ease its way back into stillness.
A kind and gentle death.
A path we all must take.