(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/23/14)
Fall is descending upon the garden here in Southern California. It doesn’t look like the fall of my youth, with the crisp, ripe air, the crimson, flaming trees, or the crackling logs on the fire. There are no frosty mornings or quiet, introspective, rainy days. No woolen sweaters or hot mugs of apple cider. You would sweat to death here.
But fall is here nonetheless. I can tell by how leggy the salvia has gotten, by how the mint, once a mad dictator claiming all neighboring lands as its own, has become dry and brittle and easily breaks like a tortured hostage. The squash vines have grasped their last fence post, their plump fruits ready to be plucked from their dirty brown hands. The hollyhocks have collapsed, unable to bear the weight of their beauty any longer, and the tiger lilies, once ferocious, have crawled back into their dens for the season.
It’s time to cut back in the garden. Time to prune back the perennials and pull out the basil. It’s time to weed the beds and cover them with a blanket of protective compost so they can have a cozy winter’s nap.
I think fall is the perfect time to cut back in my life as well. Take a cue from nature and trim back the excess growth that doesn’t serve me, only sucks away energy that could be put to better use, making my healthy parts stronger. It’s time to shed the old habits that don’t serve a creative purpose, and to let in some light and some air.
Fall is also a time of planting in Southern California. There is no better time that right now to put new plants in the ground. While visible growth comes to a standstill in the ensuing months, there is a festival of activity happening in places the eyes can’t see. Our warm, nourishing soil is prompting roots to grow, and once tender seedlings firmly establish themselves over the winter holidays. Come spring, they have a strong foundation on which to grow, and burst into life, wowing us with their color, their shape, their fragrance, their taste, and all their innumerable glories.
Now is the time for me to plant my ideas, to nourish them and let them establish themselves inside me in the coming months. Before long, those ideas will have taken root, and can burst forth and dazzle, seemingly effortlessly.
If we take the time to do important fall chores – to cut back, to clean up, to plant, and to nourish – we will have created the foundation on which to be resplendent.
If you need me, I’ll be in the garden, preparing for the beginning.