We associate harvest with autumn. Traditionally, harvesting was primarily focused on food- bringing in crops, hunting game, and that is still true today at least to some extent. Now, our markets are full of seemingly unlimited supplies of food year round. It’s always harvest time somewhere. We are so fortunate that farmers are skilled at what they do.
Thinking about it, autumn is also a time for gathering, if you’ll allow me the notion, our health and well-being. Autumn is the favorite time of year for most of the people I know, and this fall has been outstanding. Cooler temperatures incite us to go outdoors and be more active. Trails, our Lakeshore, even city streets are at their most attractive for those who walk or bike. We immediately think of the colors of leaves, but there is much more. Late-blooming flowers are beautiful, and greatly appreciated. Birds we haven’t seen since spring are back, either passing through on their way south, or returning to stay for winter. Even better, the day length and intensity of sunlight are similar to that experienced in spring, and I think that triggers some of the birds to sing even though they’ve been quiet for the last couple of months.
I associate the sounds of autumn with the goodness of the season, and hearing them triggers positive associations. The calls of geese overhead, even though we can hear them during the summer, seem sweeter now. The chips of yellow-rumped warblers and the kissing sounds the juncos evoke a warm familiarity. The chirps of purple finches and the zips of pine siskins are back again. In the evening, as the birds prepare to take flight on another leg of their migration south, white-crowned and white-throated sparrows call excitedly in the dusk. Robins patrol lawns and bushes everywhere, sometimes by the hundreds, communicating with their distinct call notes. Tiny kinglets utter their tiny songs- a high-pitched dee dee dee. On sunny days a few grasshoppers rasp away, calling for mates. And in the evening a cricket or two still calls out, along with the whinnies of screech owls and the low hoots of the great-horneds.
We all know these last pleasant days of fall are numbered, and that they are gifts. One should take advantage of the gifts offered by nature- it’s foolish not to. These gifts of nature can be harvested actively, or passively. If one can’t get out for a ride or a hike, one can gather in the goodness by just sitting quietly- listening and experiencing without thinking too much. One may not get the benefits of exercise that way, but bathing in the warmth and the sounds of a late autumn day counteract the tension we accumulate in our stressed-out world. And perhaps help us focus on what is really important in life.
photo- a hoverfly enjoys a late-blooming dandelion