Making the most of harvest in our personal lives

Thursday September 27, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I attended with a couple of friends an event that involved dance, drumming, and great food. Towards the end of the evening, the festivities came to a close as I simultaneously became lost in the movement of bodies and a realization that the event was indeed ending. This was apparent in my blank and glazed-over stare off to space, which one of my friends immediately noticed asking, "What's wrong?" I quickly replied nothing, but immediately named the feeling, blurting it out with a childlike candor: "Summer is ending." It was about seven o'clock yet it appeared later and at that moment, the air that wrapped around my body was accompanied with an undertone of fall chill.

I reflected upon this for some time afterward, especially in regards to my feelings towards the ending of summer. Yes, there was a death of sorts, but an instantaneous rebirth that was about to take its place -- harvest. As we all begin to mentally prepare for the physical transformation ushered in by the fall, it is also an opportunity to consider how we define this moment of rebirth. In other words, as some of us participate in a literal harvest, how do we make optimal use of harvest in our personal lives within this cycle of change?

The traditional meaning of harvest encompasses the gathering of crops that have ripened, yielding what has grown from the past season and essentially collecting and/or reaping that which was previously planted. Beyond the literal agricultural meaning and ritual celebrations of this term, the inevitable timing offerings us opportunity.

You don't have to have a physical garden to participate in this process. Actually, it is best that you don't, so that perhaps you can be creative about your approach or ritual for your gathering. Are there any new projects or endeavors that you planted the seeds for that are now ripe for picking? Maybe your personal harvest and reaping centers around relationship-enjoying benefits from friendships, romances, etc., that you have planted or created, or the rebirth of a familiar relationship.

In many ways harvest can also be about physically or energetically making space for new "seeds" or "crops" that you wish to plant for the next season. For example, a type of de-cluttering that most of us are familiar with is the end-of-summer tag sales. Much like a tag sale, the change in the season gives us all an opportunity to symbolically part with things that have become overly ripe in our lives and/or engage in sharing those things that once provided us with sustenance.

There is also the reality that harvest and the entrance of the fall season also brings a certain feeling of melancholia. We mourn the transition from flip-flops to boots, T-shirts to sweaters, and our precious daylight fading away slowly until the loss is officially marked with resetting our clocks.

It is indeed that time of year again but it is also opportunity with transformation as a main theme.

As we watch the green leaves change into hues of yellows, purples, and so many other hues marked by the beautiful death that fall brings, we can also witness our own metamorphosis. Be it subtle or grand, our personal transitions may involve shifting relationships, space, or just something within ourselves that is now coming forth to be collected and gathered.

So as we enjoy the whispers of summer during the day and taste the sadness that comes with the hint of chilly weather at night, let's make the most of this season. It is time to tend to our personal gardens by considering what and how we will reap those things that have bloomed in our lives while we bear witness to our own beautiful deaths as we make space to eventually plant new seeds.

Shanta Crowley writes from Brattleboro. You can read her blog at


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