Into the Season of Harvest

We picked our tomatoes this week. They were all ripe and ready to go, so Nemea cut them off the plants and we have them in our kitchen now. Other than a basil plant we keep indoors, this is our harvest: grown in half wine-barrels, the tomatoes are fine varieties, rich and filled with flavor.

The light has become more oblique, now, and the days end more quickly. Summer’s Waning is long past and Harvest looms on the 20th. Though it’s 96 degrees F. (35.5 C.) outside, Autumn is coming. Autumn is here.

I can feel it in the land. After months of no rain, the brown hills creak and ache. We’re in a drought, and many of the creeks are dry beds. The oaks–tenaciously green despite it all–huddle in the ravines and wait, patient as an oak can be, for water to return to the sky.

It’s the time of year I think about plans I made back in February; about seeds I planted in March and tended in May. This year didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped, but whose has, honestly? This is a challenging time.

And yet.

Yet.

Yet despite all of this, the Earth is spilling forth food for us. The trees breathe oxygen into the wind for our lungs. A roof protects us from that blazing, life-giving Sun, and we live, day by day.

Harvest.

I look around our new place, the result of but one of the three existential crises that piled onto us in May, June, July. We had to move, and we found a place despite the terrible market, and it is good. The rich colors and textures of our accumulated treasures dot the main room, and our wedding broom, tied with dozens of colorful ribbons, hangs over the back door.

It’s home. More than the other place was, really. Home, and home’s comforts.

The days have begun to draw down and I reflect that this Harvest is the last before I will turn 60. In my wheel of the year, which follows not only growth cycles but human cycles, Harvest is the Sabbath of the elderly, of achievement. It is becoming my Sabbath, very soon.

There was woman, a songstress named Kate Wolf, who lived in my area and died too young. I saw her perform once, too young to appreciate what I was seeing. She wrote this, after she learned she had leukemia:

It’s an unfinished life that I find lies before me

An open-ended dream and I don’t want to wake.

I’ve crossed so many rivers in search of crystal fountains

I’ve found the truest paths always lead through mountains

I’ve seen water on the sky

And fire burning on the lake.

You said to me, “I cannot make you happy

Like a wounded bird

You must find the strength to fly.

Time may paint the treetops with colors of the rainbow

But you cannot find the end, no matter how you try.”

I think of this song now, and it seems to be a summing-up of things: of years, of struggle, of wisdom gained at terrible cost. We live in times when we must all face such monumental forces, and still glean the kernels of happiness, the moments of joy, or risk losing the point of this precious life we are given.

So, Harvest. I gather the rich fruits of friendship and love, the scant grains of money, the steady pulses of living this life moment by sensual moment, dripping with vanishing sweetness, and I remind myself that I am doing the best I can, that these gifts are not to be taken for granted.

May the table groan and the cornucopia overflow. May the juice and wine pour. May the fruits of labor be delivered.

May you and I and all humans arrive at a moment like this one, brimming with gratitude for the unlikely gift of this unfinished life.

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