The days are shorter, the temperatures are colder, and vibrant colored leaves are falling from the trees. Pumpkins, apples, and cider are in abundance, as we bid farewell to summer and prepare for the winter.
And as I was cleaning up my garden for the season, I was yet again reminded of all the messages I receive from nature, and how it so closely resembles what we need to be our best selves. So as you sip your Pumpkin Spice latte and wear your sweaters for the first time in months, consider the following lessons from the harvest:
1. Celebrate successes and accomplishments.
I start a lot of seeds inside in March. Like a lot. I have pretty grand illusions of growing flax and garbanzo beans (which for the record, never come to fruition). Some seedlings die in the spring. But most truly flourish, feeding me long after I thought they would. So I smile when I realize my hard work has paid off, and all my research and tending has provided a good harvest. Like the garden, we too need to celebrate our hard work, accomplishments, and what it has taken to get us there. Take time to celebrate the journey, the dedication, and the successes.
2. Share the bounty.
Fall is a time of plentiful bounty -- if you are fortunate -- of well-tended vegetables and fruit. In early fall, I often have so many vegetables that I can't consume them all myself. So I share what I can with friends and family, who look forward to fresh garden vegetables. Yet again, it's a good lesson for us to be generous and share our blessings, talents, and good fortune with others. The sharing often gives us back more than we give away.
I try to grow a lot of different vegetables each year. When I'm cleaning up my garden, I reflect on those that worked and those that didn't. I wonder what I need to do differently next time for those that didn't, and write down observations of what did work. So should we as humans. Recognize that you'll try stuff that doesn't work out, but you'll learn something for the next season. Jot down notes of what has worked, what hasn't, and what insight you are gleaning. Sometimes the reflection itself is where most of the work happens.
4. Look for surprises.
I've previously written that I've had "volunteer" plants that pop up unexpectedly and in the most unusual places. These surprises that I least expected keep producing and keep me fed. This, too, we can apply to ourselves. Think of surprises that have fed your brain and emotions when you were least expecting them. Stay curious and open to surprises.
5. Rest and renew.
Truth be told, winter is not my favorite time of year. I am an outdoor girl who doesn't love the cold and misses my gardening during the winter months. I'll trade in a snow shovel for a garden shovel any given day, hands down. Yet I realize -- perhaps begrudgingly -- that winter is just as necessary as other months for nature to thrive. Kind of like us.
For gardens and nature to thrive, both need rest and renewal. So while there is not much growing during winter, nature needs that time to regroup and prepare for next years production. The soil needs time to rest and compost needs time to make that magical "black gold."
As do we. We function much better when we are rested. We can tackle that big meeting, a difficult conversation, or the never-ending "to-do" list when we have had a good night's sleep. A week away allows us perspective to tackle the challenges ahead. So allow yourself time for rest and renewal, so you can grow an even bigger harvest for the next season.
Nature gives us lessons all year long, through each season. It totally amazes me. So as you huddle around the bonfire, kick around the leaves, and enjoy the crisp fall air, reflect on the lessons from the harvest and embrace the necessary renewal of winter.