I love the slowing down that happens in the fall. There is a stillness that occurs as the cicadas quiet in the trees, and the earth slowly settles in to rest for winter. Particularly in my world, I have slowed down in my contributions to this space. I hope in the coming weeks I find time more often to share and reflect. On September 29th we celebrated Michaelmas, one of my favorite cyclical festivals from the Waldorf School. For those of you unfamiliar with the day, it focuses upon celebrating the last light of summer, and keeping that light in mind during the transition to winter. Specifically, Michaelmas stories often center upon St. Michael and the story of St. George and the dragon. Through these stories the celebration of Michaelmas encourages us to look within for light, strength, courage, and determination to defeat our own inner “dragons.” As we forge into the darker time of year, we carry with us the resilience of summer and the courage we gather in this last blazing time of year. At our house, we celebrated by lighting candles and reading verses, not to mention a homemade meal of soup (tinged pink from purple carrots I used), blackberries, cornbread, and apple crisp.
As fall is my favorite time of year, I love Michaelmas because it marks the beginning of the new season. The crows this year have been particularly vivacious. They flock in a large oak tree at the edge of the park, and acorns rain down from their greedy beaks onto unsuspecting passersby. I suppose they might be migrating through our city, as I have rarely seen so many in one place! Occasionally they collectively move – caw-ing in a huge flock as they pass overhead. The sight is simultaneously amazing and intimidating, and it’s hard not to think of Hitchcock.
Now November has arrived, the autumn air has already begun to feel cooler. The days are definitely growing shorter, and I love the long shadows as the angle of the sun changes. As we carry the light of Michaelmas ahead with us, we look ahead to Martinmas next week, celebrated on November 11th. This holiday celebrates the continuation of the light from Michaelmas, as we carry this light into the darkest time of the year. I’ll share more on Martinmas in the coming week.
I know I teased about an upcoming project a few months ago in my last blog post. This project, shall we say, has been put on the “bike rack” for now, but I may return to it in the future. Essentially, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Fairy Tales in Marina Warner’s book Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale as well as reading Swedish and Norwegian folk tales from collections I recently bought (these areas of the world are of particular interest to me as I did a poetry project focusing on Northern European folk tales last fall). I was eager to share some of my findings and thoughts here, but I need more time to crystalize how this might look, or if this is the right space to engage with that material. I am going to a Norwegian Christmas fair this weekend – hopefully a little tomte will find his way home with me.
For now, I’m trying to continue my ever challenging practice of patience. Patience with myself, patience with my body as I continue to heal from my challenging summer sinus troubles, and patience with others. This is a hard lesson, and something I have trouble carrying with me in some moments. I’m looking forward to the quietness of late fall, and I hope you also find time to reflect and enjoy as the earth slows down.
Wishing warmth and health to all!