Today I skipped my morning coffee routine in favor of getting a run in before it started raining. Although, really, the run of humidity we’ve had in the Northeast the last few weeks has left me wishing I had gills, and will no doubt cause me to take little notice of a bit of rain. Sure enough, as the effort to breath in water laden air overtook my dedication to running, I changed my pace to a steady walk to match the beginning steady drizzle.
As droplets of moisture ran down my face, I noted many former fledgling plants in private and community gardens, which had once heralded springtime, had now matured and lacked the vitality of summer. Natural gardens alongside the road and in the woods had turned to restful golds and browns. Former growth had become seed for nature’s spring planting and feed for winter wildlife. Even wildlife had changed with the seasons. The crow that tagged along with me, blue tinged and vibrant in breeding season, now sported dulling plumage. All of these changes marked the passage of time.
This week is the Autumn Equinox, a time when day and night is balanced with 12 hours each of day and night. For our ancestors, this is another occasion to take the time to honor home, Earth, and the transition we experience. As the Earth tilts away from the sun, we in the northern hemisphere move from the warmth of summer into the chilling experience that is winter. Each of us honor this transition in whatever way we choose, those things that deepen our connectedness to Earth and her species! As I ran, I thought of my ancestors understanding the importance of seasonal eating; its connection to the passage of time. They would fish and hunt according to the season, grow crops in summer for fall harvest, preserving some for winter and spring eating before beginning the cycle again. Through these actions, they noted the passage of time and the importance of community connection through the sharing of their bounty. Food was respected and celebrated.
I take notice of the Autumn Equinox with the harvesting of my homegrown foods. Through food, many of us better connect with our neighbors and the passage of time. Although, today I find it to be common to have Mother Nature’s offerings grow and die without notice, and so goes the marking of time. “Time flies.” “Where does the time go?” “I wish I had more time.” These are all remarks we commonly use in referencing time, but more often than not, still do not slow to note its passage.
There was a time when we mostly grew and harvested what we ate and often helped each other with the process. In New England, this meant eating strawberries as they ripened in June. August was the season of eating everything blueberry, as they ripened in the brilliant sunshine of summer. In between, we snacked from the garden, as what we had planted made its way up through the soil. We savored the savored the essence of autumn’s first apples and pears sweetened from ripening on the tree. With help from family and friends, these offerings were canned, frozen and stored for winter sustenance. Preserved vegetables, meats and local fruits filled our pantries. Meals were planned around what was seasonal or had been stored and used to show gratitude that the harvest had been plentiful or offer up hope next year would be better. About the time we ran out, spring would offer fiddleheads along river banks and asparagus would bravely triumph the last scourge of winter. People with fishing in their hearts, would take to lakes and streams. Like the changes in our attire, our food options changed with the passing of each season.
Falling leaves of autumn. The snappy bite of a Cortland fresh off a September tree. These moments mark time’s passage and the changing of seasons. Like many people today, I find time slips readily away, unnoticed and without gratitude of it having been. Most of my food options mark time in perfect rhythm with the changing of the season. While I note a renewal of neighbors revisiting the traditions of their ancestors, much of time will continue to slip away without remark. I will not let it all go without at least a nod, an acknowledgement that while time and I parted ways, for a moment we gave each other notice.