This is the place where I get to chat about anything that is on my mind, regardless of its connection to gardens! That is nice to have. For many of us, our gardens are places to escape from the stresses of work or the daily grind of life. But, when gardens are in full swing, sometimes we need a place to escape from the garden! This is that place.
The glorious sunsets of October have arrived. Cool fronts are sweeping through the southern states. Leaves are changing. Humidity has dropped. Days are shortening. The sky has taken on a clarity we have not seen since last spring and the sun’s rays are slanting through south-exposed windows. All of these signs foretell the coming of winter.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated the equinox, one of the two times of the year when the length of night and day are the same. In our culture, we recognize four distance seasons (two in south Florida, although we pretend there are four!), but this has not always been the case. Until the modern era, there were only two seasons recognized (summer and winter) that included the transitional periods we now define as spring and fall. Only in the past centuries have the transitional periods been recognized as distinct seasons.
In tropical regions, seasons are not defined by the length of sunlight, the calendar or temperatures; instead, they are defined by moisture. In warm regions (like south Florida), there is a wet season and a dry season. In other parts of the world, such as south Asia (especially India and Bengal), there are six recognized seasons equally spread throughout the year. The two additional seasons include the monsoon season and a division of autumn or winter into early and late stages.
Our beloved four seasons have been subdivided with celebrations, festivals and feasts that mark the midpoint between the seasons…these are called “cross quarter days.” The cross quarter days originated from Pagan, Wiccan and folk traditions, many of which have been incorporated into the Christian calendar as times of special significance. You may recognize Lammas Day as one of these cross quarter days. Halloween, which is soon upon us, is another.
With all of the ceremony, these observations are but markers of time. They also reenact the cycle of birth, growth, maturity and death throughout the year, reminding us of our mortality and our place in the immortal cycle of life. Halloween is one of those celebrations. It is a time to remember those who have died and it marks the beginning of the last half of autumn before the cycle of birth begins again with the winter solstice.
It is nice that the beautiful weather descends upon us as we remember those who are no longer alive. The joy they brought us, the love they gave us and the care they bestowed upon us carried us through to where we are today. Much like the harvest we reap from our gardens, the inner nourishment that was given to us by those who are no longer with us is indeed something to celebrate.
Enjoy the season!