The top of November
...“the growing season has ended” and today I awake an hour ‘too early’ because my body does not know that Eastern Standard Time has now begun. The ancient Celts, 53 latitudinal degrees north from the equator, simply called it the dark time, or Samhain (SAU-en), one of the two great doorways of their year. This Celtic ‘calendar’ of two seasons seems more authentic in design as anyone who has grown up in New England knows there are not four seasons that abide by the division of our mathematical grids. Although I am not a participant in pagan beliefs or rituals, I am intrigued by historical origins and mysteries, like Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Pompeii, and the Etruscans. The older I get, the more I relate to the ‘nature’ of nature - its lightness and darkness, its warmth and coldness, its growth and dormancy, its cycle of life that includes dying. I don’t exactly look forward to ‘the dark time’ as I do the summer, but now I can welcome it. For, as written by Mara Freeman, a leading teacher of Celtic spirituality, “…it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground.” So, I can welcome it like an estranged relative, the rejected or the ignored, the unaffiliated ones who keep their irregular beauties under covers that often require too much effort for society at large to bother with. The time of light is more pleasant and less challenging to welcome. It is joyful and giddy and less potent. We do not kick up our heels at this time of year. We gather and store. After a pot of strong coffee during this writing, I will cook some bacon for myself, dress and go out to my ‘estate’ (as I like to call my little half-acre!) and rake and prepare to hunker down. I will stuff my jean pockets full of tissues for my sensitive nose that runs like a spigot at temperatures below 50 degrees. There is a kind of devilish pleasure this time of year in putting tingling toes and fingers to hot cups of cider or tea or wood fires or baking ovens just as there is, conversely, in sweating in the sun and plunging into a cold lake. Having memory of senses and observation and inquiry take the edge off the coming of the dark time because I know there will be a time of light.