Oh, these cooler mornings. (Anything cooler than eighty degrees around here is a step in the right direction.) Autumn is right around the corner--even if, technically, it's still hot as blue blazes in Dingleberry until, say, Halloween. This year, I'm determined to make something of the Equinox. I mean, a full moon AND the Equinox? Come ON. I'm going to talk to Will about it. He's been very open to discussing my ideas in the past and even has joined me at some bonfires that have ceremonial purpose for me, so I think that the time is ripe to let him know that I'm stepping it up a bit in terms of my spiritual practice and our family. And I've been reading Ellen Dugan's book (pssst...have you entered to win it?), gathering up some ideas.
The only thing is...we don't have much of a harvest this year. My tomato and peppers were decimated by a virus, my cucumbers got wilt, my pumpkins had a squash borer, my beans never produced, AND I got one of these beauties in there:
Sorry. My garden, she was not feeling it this year. I got lots of herbs out of it (and will continue to do so...I'm harvesting tarragon, stevia, and oregano today, with lavender, chocolate mint, and basil tomorrow), but the veggies were a bust. I'm planning to do some lettuces and spinach, some carrots (which have to go in TODAY) and other fall/winter veggies, but as far as putting stuff up, not so much.
My point is that there isn't really a harvest in our home to be celebrated. At least, not one from our garden. However, yesterday, I had a little bit of inspiration that might have pointed me in the right direction.
When I was a child and, in fact, up until I was in college, my parents' home was heated by a woodstove. Every late summer/early fall, my father would round us up and we would go into the woods by our home and cut felled or dead trees into firewood. I loved those times: the smell of the fallen leaves, the crisp air, the blue of the sky. And I loved the gathering aspect of it. OH and I looooved stacking the wood when we got home, getting each log to snug perfectly against its neighbor.
Will and I have central air and heat. There is really no need for the fireplace we have in our library. However, we keep it clean and working, because unlike a lot of fireplaces, it works very efficiently. I love a fire on a winter night, just for aesthetics' sake, but it really does keep the library and part of the kitchen warm, even TOO warm when the fire's been going long enough. Every year, we buy a stack of firewood and burn a few fires. But a lot of our wood goes to the fire pit, and we always run out before winter's or just get lazy and stop burning fires inside.
Last year, our electric bills in January, February, and March were horrific. (Kind of like my electric bill last month...jeesh at this extreme weather.) I determined last month to rely more on fans in the hot months, so it made sense to think about relying more on the fireplace during the cold months. But I didn't want to spend a lot of money feeding the fire pit. (Wood around here runs seventy bucks a truckload.)
Lately, I've been noticing a lot of timber by the side of the road. There was a new school built, folks are trimming up their yards, etc. It occurred to me that this was free firewood and Will and I have been keeping an eye out, grabbing branches here and there as we have time and room. This weekend, Coach told us about a side road near the new school with some cut trees, so we checked it out. JACKPOT: four trees, pecan and oak, were in the process of being cut down and their limbs were stacked up on the side of the road. We made two trips and got this big pile:
Will sawed it up into logs and I stacked it and in the end, we have a much bigger supply of firewood than we ever have had--with another month left for gathering. (You want to leave some time for the wood to dry out so it'll burn well.)
For me, the firewood hauling yesterday was sooo much more than just gathering wood. It was a chance for our family to work together, a chance to be outside (even though it was hot). It was gathering up Mother Nature's gifts so that they wouldn't be wasted. It was preparing for the cold to come. It was, at the end of it all, laying in the harvest.
It made me think of the way that I'd like to celebrate the Equinox this year. I think I'd like to make a meal of local foods and share it with my family. I'd also like to discuss with the kidlets and Will the things we have harvested this year as a family: what we've learned, what we've enjoyed, what we've overcome. I think I'll make a scrapbook or photo album of the year past and we can label it after dinner. We'll have a bonfire, of course. I'll probably try to do some more, but I really want to keep it simple.
Have you got your plans for the Equinox settled yet? I'd love to hear them.