The pull of autumn

Welcome to autumn, friends.

As the sun rises I feel the subtle pull of winter in the distance, a whisper on the wind. Even as this unseasonably hot day unfolds, autumn dawns, drawing me closer to the quiet and darkness of the coming months. Today the sun crosses above the equator, rising directly to the east and setting directly to the west, and daytime and nighttime hours are approximately equal. The sun’s arc begins to shift toward the south, days shorten, plant growth slows, caterpillars pupate, while leaves turn colors and float to the forest floor.

There is a knowing in the woods. A deep understanding that it is time for transformation, for balance, for moving through the wheel of time in primordial cycles. Even though temperatures remain hotter than normal, signs of autumn are everywhere here at Pokeberry Pines.

Spiders spin webs high and low -funnels and orbs – among the trees, on the last flowers of summer, and in the leaf litter.

Leaves, crunchy from lack of rain, carpet the trails and forest floor.

It is the season for snakes, too. Moving through the leaf litter, across roads, and over fields as they search for food and places to rest during the cooler months to come.

Throughout the yard, brilliant yellows of autumn flowers seek to prolong the light of summer – wingstem, crownbeard, sneezeweed, goldenrod.

Seed pods dangle from spent flower stalks, seeds blown away by the wind or eaten by passing goldfinches, house finches and more.

The boneset is one of the last flowers to bloom during the year, a boon to the native bees and last of the butterflies with its frilly white flowers on tall, strong stalks.

While some summer flowers, like the Gallardia put out their last flush of red blooms…

…the passionvine plays host to fritillary caterpillars, flushes with its last purple blossoms, and grows a magnificent crop of maypops (fruit).

The pokeweed berries are ripening, even as one last set of flowers blooms. The berries are destined to become homemade ink in the coming days.

Along with the yellow flowers of fall come the purples of the asters and mistflowers in their fluffy bundles.

And the leaves are turning…yellows, oranges, reds…the colors of fire before the flame goes out.

On this day of balance and celebration of the harvest, it is a good time to pause for a moment and appreciate all the wonders of life around us and within us. As the new moon ushers in another cycle of light, the autumn equinox gently pulls us toward darkness and rest. Before the days give way to night, look for the pockets of sunshine and be grateful for the moment.

Happy fall, all!

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