the cry of the october garden
the garden’s been hushed for months now. or maybe i’ve been too distracted to notice.
this week though, with honey-dappled light oozing across its fading, bent, and desiccating boughs and stems, with fronds of fern collapsed, splayed every which way, and nodding heads of hydrangea weighing down the branch, with my own soul ragged, in need of long slow immersion, i heard october’s garden call my name.
i’d been typing — or trying to anyway — when suddenly some drop of golden light, nectar from the heavens, caught my eye. i looked up, pushed out my chair, threw on my muck-about boots and grabbed the clippers on the way.
for a good long soak of an afternoon, i snipped and yanked and piled high the proof. my growing things, most of them at least, were forgiving; i apologized anyway. i’d left them all abandoned through summer’s height and frenzied weeks. they’d waited, as all good gardens do. they knew that, someday, i’d return. i always do.
and, apothecary on slender sturdy stem, the whole plot applied its balm. gentian blue dots, a sure cure for any faded heart, still winked at me. mopheads of hydrangea kept on their color show, turning lime to rose to tinged in plum, all but begging me to snip them at the neck and bring them in for winter. the black-eyed susan, once a perky swath of whimsy, now lay dark, nothing but the black-eyed button, landing pad for hungry songbirds, who peck and fill their bellies.
to be amid a garden in october is to catch up to the end of the story, to pay notice to what happens when the glory fades away, and yet another topography of beautiful is bared.
this is, after all, the wabi-sabi season, so defined by a farmer friend of mine as the season that pulses with the beauty of sadness and the sadness of beauty, the season that pulses with the poetry of imperfection and impermanence. nothing beautiful lasts forever, my garden whispers, so savor all of it, every drop of it, while you have the chance to reach out and rub your nose, your hands, your heart, in the whole of it.
essential wisdom, far beyond the garden.
i’m fairly certain it was the earthy, tactile element, the dirt under my nails, the pin scratches up and down my arms (october’s thorny roses are no less forgiving than the sturdy stems of june), that soothed me. the being out in golden afternoon, feeling the faintest ray of sun bathe across my sweatered back. there was healing in the garden stain splotting my knees, and surely in the armloads of autumnal offerings i hauled in the house, tucked in old vases.
once my shoulders ached, and my clipper hand throbbed, i kicked off my garden boots, and clambered back inside, content to watch the sunlight fade as i assumed my steady post just beside my chopping board and cookstove. in yet another iteration of surrendering to hands in lieu of cerebration, i turned this week to slicing, stirring, cracking eggs, and cranking up the oven. there was, there is, in the alchemy of the kitchen a sure cure for ails of the deepest-down ilk. stew and soup and pumpkin bars, i made them all this week.
i was drawn by battered heart, and sodden soul, to find my solace where the growing things live and breathe and surrender to the season’s close, and when the air grew chill, i warmed the rest of me — and those i love — by tending to the cookstove.
not a bad prescription, after all.
where and how do you practice healing acts or arts?
So tender a read for an October day. I, too, find myself with fading heart as the last chapter of this year’s story begins. A couple days ago I read that sensitive souls (Elaine Aron, PhD’s work on highly sensitive persons enlightened me to who I am) often feel down in October because we are so in touch with nature’s cycle. You’ve just had 2 losses of people dear to you, besides. Even in FL with no fall colors (I’m sure missing the Midwest fall and its colors), I’m feeling the shorter light days, and turning to more time for reflection for myself. I loved reading your blog, made me feel back at home in Chicago. Thanks for sharing your tender moments and connecting with us!
bless you so much dear lou. i am going to have to look up elaine aron. i know my husband recently saw an article in the wall street journal about hypersensitivity wired folk. he left it on the kitchen table so when i came down in the morning i wouldn’t miss it. it was actually fascinating. it might explain so very much…..(but of course i remember no specifics….)
Elaine is great, plus highly educated! She just put out a movie on sensitives. There are some writers on FB too. The first book I read was by Kyra Mesich, where I felt like I found myself, then I turned to Elaine’s work! I’m finding my tribe! 🙂
Your food and your garden emanate your nurturing tendency. Try complete your emotional being I think
How you guys doing? News from mother Kamin?
Andrea Lavin Solow
a lovely thought that my battered old cookstove and rambunctious forgiving garden make up parts of the whole of me. i think you might be right. xoxox
Thank you for bringing us into the hush of your October garden to benefit from its healing balm…
Love these words, so much: “i was drawn by battered heart, and sodden soul, to find my solace where the growing things live and breathe and surrender to the season’s close, and when the air grew chill, i warmed the rest of me — and those i love — by tending to the cookstove.” …. I cannot think of a better way to spend an October day. (I spent the morning in the garden as well, and now our house is filling with the savory aroma of 5-hour stew, an old family recipe, while a gentle rain beats upon the roof…)
When my heart is heavy, I escape to woods and quiet riverbanks, or lose myself in books of poetry. Sometimes, when my emotions are complex, creating too much noise in my head, only music can comfort me. I’ll listen to Mozart or Beethoven, or perhaps to one of my cherished contemporary composers. Music expresses that which defies expression, which I why I cherish the words of Hans Christian Andersen:
“Where words fail, music speaks.”
Your words, my friend, are always music to the ear. Bless you for all you share here at the chair, words straight from your loving heart. xox
i love the places your heavy heart takes you. and i love so much your words about music, when thoughts create “too much noise in my head…..”
and it’s hard to imagine anything more curative — for tummy or soul — than a five-hour stew…..
sending tender hug back to wherever you are — riverbank or woods or under mozart’s dome…
“…to pay notice to what happens when the glory fades away, and yet another topography of beautiful is bared.” This resonates deeply. Beautifully observed. Laura Brown recommended your blog, feeling we might be kindred spirits. I’m guessing she’s right! Thanks you for this lovely post.
laura brown is my fairy godmother, i swear. so so lovely to meet a kindred spirit. bless you for strolling by…..