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Harvest the Good

It's October, the time of year that for me stirs the nest that is my subconsious, moving sediments of memory into full blown consciousness as the autumn deepens and swells with flavor. Because I live in Florida, I can visit this season only as visualization, but religiously, every year as Halloween approaches, images of the past begin whirling before me, a most joyful and sensual dance.

At P.S. 203 in Brooklyn, each fall we'd create "art" with red and gold autumn leaves, study pictures of the harvest, eagerly buy paperback books of ghost stories at the Scholastic book fair in the school cafeteria. I also felt a physical excitement at the first sight of Halloween decorations for sale in the stationery store: cardboard cutouts of witches on brooms, black cats, and full moons with guardian owls. The smell of chewy orange wax harmonicas and red wax lips remains with me. In those urban masquerade days, harvest meant grabbing handfuls of candy corn and sticky popcorn balls.

As an adult, I still thrill at getting my house Halloween ready: the window goblins and ghosts, the scent of a cinnamon broom in a closed room, and the purchase of the season's first pomegranates. It may not have the original charm of vampires and flying witches flying on the bay windows of OldMill Basin houses, but I do feed an internal fire as I pumpkin shop and string orange lights around my sub-tropical bushes. Yes, I do that.

Wiccans and earth religions respectthe beauty and mystery of this season. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, Oct.31- Nov. 1 honors the harvest and central to this day is the recognition of shifting time, of past and future, beginning and end. Etymologically, the Gaelic word Samhain combines the words for "summer" and "end." It's the tao of life. As we receive earth's abundance this time of year, we also mourn the passing of a season. Our lives flow this way. Learning to balance the end of some part of our life with the promise of new life remains challenging.

This weekend I spoke with at least three unrelated, geographically distant people who, linked by the collective unconscious, began clearing and discarding, decluttering and rearranging space. Some Divine wisdom propels us to release accumulated debris, both physical and psychic, external and internal. It's not spring cleaning as we have always known it; it's autumnal shedding and gathering. I cleaned out my garage, throwing away bags of items that just collected dust: old paint, multiple canvas bags picked up at this convention and that workshop, cans of hurricane foods that expired three years ago. Simultaneously, my emotions took a bumpy October hayride as well and I found myself almost breaking with each new toss into the dumpster. The one item that opened the floodgate was a verdigris garden stake in the shape of a mallard below a sign reading, "Duck Crossing." I was a Muscovy duck rescue volunteer, the neighborhood "duck lady," and upon moving into my new house just months before my marriage, I planted that stake in the front yard to designate my house as an animal sanctuary. I can't recall when I plucked it from the yard, years ago, just as I can't recall the moment my marriage crossed into hurtful landscape, years ago, but finding it swept me up in a wind I had not expected. I found myself jockeying between relief and grief, the kind that comes when you stare at your own decay.

Embracing this ritualistic neopagan cleansing, I retrieved some early photographs of my husband and me, and dug a well in the yard into which I placed them, prayed, and lit a candle. It rained more than half the weekend, and as I reconstructed my own thoughts, I speculated that I had not buried my old life but perhaps planted it. Maybe planting the hurt will transmute it and yield ...something.
I straddle the border of hopeful, and in that welcoming space offer you a seasonal message:
clear the darkness from your life anyway that feels right, ritualize it, believe in promise. Then when the time is right, harvest only good things.


Pam said…
Just as you go crazy for others' beautiful sentence constructions, so I go crazy for yours. I think this is your most beautiful piece to date.

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