The seasons seem to flow one into the other in an organic and flexible way when you start watching the natural world up close. The changes are not as stark or clearly defined as the Gregorian calendar would lead one to believe. Climatological dating would have autumn starting on September 1st and astronomical dating would see its start around the 21st here in the northeastern United States. Yet, here I am camped out on the shore of a pond in the Catskills in mid-August and autumn has already begun to show itself. The mornings and evenings are cool, leaves are starting to change their colors, and animals are busily gathering their stores for the colder months ahead. White tail bucks are growing out their antlers and our local walnut trees have started to drop their nuts.
Autumn has always been the season that I most resonate with. The other seasons have their allure, of course, like the mass greening in spring with its abundant and accelerated growth, the high heat of summer that ripens all we harvest, and the deep cold of winter with its slowed pace and introspective texture, but autumn holds more for me. Something deeply enlivening happens and my experience becomes crisper because my senses reach farther out. It is the time of year when I feel most at home in myself.
Although having a raging bonfire on a cool evening under a clear star-studded sky is one of my favorite things to do, I have found that fire is only a part of this season. I’ve also discovered fire’s elemental compliment and associations. When I energetically align myself to the season of summer, I feel the direction of south, the element of fire, the mid-day sun, the full moon, and aspects of strength and vigor. When autumn starts to take hold, the shift is to the direction west, the element of water, the setting sun, the waning moon, and aspects of culmination and completion.
Water is what strikes me most strongly as I shape-shift with this flowing narrative of the natural world. Lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and reservoirs are abundant in the Catskills. Even in drought years there is water here. As I grow into this natural exchange, I become aware of how water affects and embraces me. Walking in the forest in a cold rain becomes a cleansing for the body as well as the soul. Gazing out over the broad expanse of a still lake centers me and puts me in touch with the workability of my life. Paddling along quiet rivers reminds me that I am supported. Feeling the cool damp dew on my bare feet shows me that above all else, water connects us all. The water that I drink, just like the air I breath, has passed through innumerable beings. Water makes up most of our planet as well as most of our bodies and we all share it.
Water is a precious gift that supports the life of the entire natural world. I invite you to look at how, and in what ways water encourages you to be. As you move through your day ask yourself where water touches your life at a deeper level. When you drink, be reminded of the origins of what you imbibe. When you wash, be mindful of what you are returning to the watershed. When you encounter water, see it for the sacred being that it truly is.
From my Heart to Yours,
Christopher T. Franza
OMEC/Board of Directors