The first deep frost has come. The last flowers that had been staunchly holding on, that had still brightened the garden, have lost their energy. They are wilted and browning, their stems dipping to the ground. Time to trim back and prepare the beds for next spring. Time to prepare for winter.
This is inward turning time. Usually I look forward to it, but this year I sense a sadness that I haven’t experienced before. Maybe because the fall has been long and mild, the days sunny for the most part, the nights cool, but still warm enough to keep a window open in the bedroom. I like listening to the sounds of the night, the coyotes, foxes and owls, the animals that scurry past the house in the night. One night we heard something chewing voraciously at a large cardboard box we had stowed beneath the deck. Soon after we discovered that a hole had been chewed into the side of it and that a nest of bees had taken up residence. The animal we’d heard, probably a opossum, had gone after the bees.
Another night we heard a cat being attacked, fighting wildly for its life. We could barely stand the excruciating sounds of its cries. We thought of going out and yelling, of scaring off the predator, but knew that it was not right, was not in alignment with nature. One animal eats another. It happens all the time. Look at us humans, we do the same. None of it is pleasant to ponder, especially when you actually hear death approaching, when you hear the last cries coming from the strangled animal’s throat, but death is a fact of life. Winter closing in is a fact of life too.
And so I face the inevitability, making the final preparations for its coming. I accept that I must be in alignment with nature; I can’t escape the truth of winter! I can’t imagine shoveling snow just yet, but the snow shovels are ready. The snow blower has been cleaned of the acorns stored in it by mice in the shed. The leaves are being raked and mulched, the wood and pellet stoves already in use and the daily hauling of logs and pellets begun.
With the end of daylight savings time—which I hate, by the way, as it interrupts the flow of spring’s awakening each year, forcing us out of a most natural alignment with nature—fall ends. The darkness, which we had been staving off is really here now. We noticed immediately how natural it felt to be back on nature’s time, the extra hour of sleep readjusting our inner clocks to nature’s clock, the only clock that we should be attentive to. We once spent time on an island, away from civilization, the lone inhabitants. We naturally lived by the rising and setting sun, and it felt so right. Without the constraints of the world, it’s easy to live that way, but I feel compelled to live in alignment with nature as much as possible, and so I am paying particular attention to this time of year now, especially as I’ve felt such resistance to it this year.
In stark contrast to evenings spent on the deck, we’ve had to be inside now, before the fire or at the dinner table. Rather than watching the sunset, feeling its last warm rays, or taking a walk on a warm evening, we must adjust our habits. It’s a good time to make some changes, to prepare to face this winter differently from other years. It’s a good time to take up those creative endeavors, or those things we’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten to yet.
In inward turning time we can turn even deeper inward, as well, into ourselves. We can opt to study ourselves and our behaviors on a deeper level, asking ourselves to make some beneficial changes, whether in diet, sleep patterns, exercise, or at the deepest inner level, in how we act and react, how we behave and how we expect others to behave towards us. We can confront our projections and ask ourselves to be responsible for ourselves in a new way. We can go inward and ask ourselves to change something that needs changing and give ourselves the task, this winter, to finally make it happen.
It’s a good time of year to let the changes happen that have been brewing for a long time, to acquiesce to the inevitability of life moving on, of life in constant flux, just as nature does. As I listen to the cries that come from outside during the night—the owl catching a meal, the coyote on the scent—I must keep myself as alive and hungry as those creatures of nature do. I must remain alert and aware, always on the lookout for where my spirit wants to go, to where my inner world is pointing me.
I must not fall into slumber or into the complacency of the season, into the routine of holidays and events as usual. It’s time to do it differently, because the entire world is doing it differently now, the seasons have changed! And so should we!
Heading into winter with awareness,