Those last summer days were heaven . . . I felt totally in the flow with my two children, so present and alive in the moment, at the beach humming with the warmth of the sand and sky, the calm and rhythmic waves rolling. We were so in sync, our days just rolled by with our breaths, rising and falling. So delicious.
Then, school started, still in the height of our summer, weather-wise. Oh, how I resisted! I did not want this summer to end! To come down from my cosmic high! I fought, I really did. I got frustrated at myself and my children, blaming the rigidity of school for interrupting our calm and free days. But soon I realized, kicking and screaming was not the way to let summer go — certainly not what I want the children to witness and imitate! The effort to make peace with the change, to settle into a new season, has not been easy.
The Jewish High Holidays helped. I took my two children to do Taschlich on the beach — you cast away into running water your mistakes from the past year, aspects of yourself you want to leave behind, a commitment to be better in the year ahead. Instead of breadcrumbs we threw dried leaves and flowers from our garden. We went to the beach at a bay-side wetland. As we walked to the water’s edge hand in hand, I sang songs from the Rosh Hashanah service like “Sim Shalom” and “L’dor Vador.” We tossed our flowers into the waves and made simple wishes like “Away with whining, but I’ll keep singing,” and “I throw away yelling, but I keep loving snuggles.” P started with “no more spinach, yes more chocolate,” but later she got deeper into it.
Just at the moment when we tossed our last flowers and named the last inner changes we hope to make, all the birds of the swamp rose into the air at once! A hawk landed protectively to watch over us on our right. A great blue heron seemed to hold counsel among all the small birds in front of us. A white egret floated above the children to our left, like a spirit with some special insight. It was a moment of connection, spirit, and peace as a family. According to Steiner, for the ancients Autumn was the time to gain knowledge from nature and to read the signs in nature like messages to be decoded.
And so, I was reassured that it doesn’t have to be summer to feel this way! I can let go and move into Autumn. The Earth inhales her forces and we pull back closer to the soil, noticing nuts, seeds and cones dropping there. Waiting for the first rains that will bring those seeds back to life. After sleeping patiently through our Mediterranean dry season, they wake up drowsily to slow and steady winter growth. Rains that will bring decomposition of all the dry and dusty matter piling up — death and decay in the darkness of winter. All of this is coming, a solitary and darker time. Time to kindle our own inner light and inner strength. To look inside and see what we are made of, as we started to on Yom Kippur!
I’ve learned a lot about Michaelmas this season, here at the point of balance between reaching out to the cosmos in summer and burrowing into the earth in winter. Two images were my favorite for my children’s ages this year. The shooting stars from late Summer meteor showers, bringing iron and minerals from the cosmos to penetrate the earth and give us inner strength. The star in the middle of an apple, the cosmic star hidden within the earth’s fruit. Also hidden beneath many eucalyptus cones around here!
I am telling an Autumn puppet story from Tamara Chubarovksy’s repertoire, gnomes and all. No colored leaves here: our hombrecillo de otoño is waking up the seed babies who have slept through our dry drought of summer, caring for them as they sprout with the first rains. Mami is making mermelada de claudias and the bushy-tailed ardilla is collecting nuts. The gnomes are hiding . . . can you see them?
Looking forward to colada morada and guaguas de pan in a few more weeks! And to see what the depths of Autumn bring.