The weather finally turned here, a bit after the date on the calendar marking autumn's arrival, but it did. And the turn, gentle and unassuming, was profoundly welcomed here, as I am sure the seasonal transition was welcome in your garden. Sometimes the thing I am most grateful for in the garden is the turn of the season to let me start fresh. The first frost which eases overgrowth and overwhelm and just sheer biomass.
The sound of the season is a two part harmony - the quaking of the drying cottonwood leaves on the big tree at the southwest corner of my garden, sweetened and rounded by the white-crowned sparrows calling their return for fall and winter.
These are layered, storied sounds of the season for me - full of emotion and meaning and place. The cottonwood - its sound, colors, shape and habit hearken back to early childhood - to aspens in the Colorado high country, to cottonwood bosques forming the ribbon of summer green followed by the ribbon of autumn gold along creeks and waterways in central and southern Colorado, to being a mother of two young girls when the front of our garden then was marked (guarded? championed?) by two of the largest cottonwoods I have ever had the privilege of knowing. As the girls and I would make our daily journeys - often by foot - to and from pre-school, on nature treasure hunts, to the grocery store or library throughout the seasons, those two trees companioned us. We called them The Grandmothers. They were solid and warming. And they sang the same song as my younger tree does now.
When I first noticed this most recent cottonwood upon moving into this home and garden four autumn's ago now - about this same time of year - it was a straggly little whip of a thing. But in a new suburban neighborhood, a few short blocks to a seasonal creek, in which native oaks and shrubs were no doubt removed to make way for platting and paving, I loved its plucky choice of home ground along the sidewalk. It was and is a green and living bridge between my garden and passersby, between my garden and my neighbors (albeit sometimes in a perfectly civil "could-you-please-trim-that-back-so-I can-get-to-the-mailboxes? kind of way).
Now, the cottonwood is quite tall, casts a nice pool of shade and has just recently begun its autumn song. I hear it from my bedroom window as I fall asleep in the cooler evenings' dark and as I wake in the dim light of early mornings. It sings of the past, marks our movement forward into mid-fall, and adds melody to the moment. It's a welcome seasonal song.
Top: Three golden cottonwood leaves on our seasonal table.
Bottom: Late summer nasturtiums from Aunt Di's Southern Vermont garden.
Another sound of the season is this: gratitude. Yes, despite everything, gratitude. We're entering a traditional season of thanks - of harvest and holidays. As such Cultivating Place is preparing to take part in the celebrations and offerings of gratitude with our first ever seasonal "special" - focusing on the concepts of gratitude in the garden. Illustrating how our gardens are in many ways our rituals of meaning, our gratitude practices, one part of our own community engagement and outreach - even if it's just in the way that our gardens can be bridges between our own private lives and concerns and those of the neighbors and larger culture.
This first seasonal special with be centered around a special individual interview and will be accented front, back and center with audio clips from other gardeners sharing what gratitude and thankfulness look like in their gardens.
I'm thinking you should sing along. What does gratitude look like in your garden on a seasonal, monthly or daily level?
Above: Celebrate what you can. Sometimes I forget that. This festive walkway reminded me at the Union Hill Inn Community Garden in Sonora, CA.
In addition to including what individual gratitude clips we can in the seasonal special, we will also have a dedicated audio file of all clips received edited for length and sound quality as needed on the mynspr.org and cultivatingplace.com websites. I think this kind of noticing, of articulating and of celebrating is vital. I don't do it nearly enough.
Want to submit a clip? It's easiest if you have a smart phone and mic/headset such as you would use for speaking on the phone:
1. locate the VOICE MEMOS or equivalent on your device.
2. Record your clip (DEFINITELY WRITE down what you want to say and then read it with your intended tone and intention - thoughtful or funny, light, playful, happy, reverent, whatever your clip reflects. THEN LISTEN to your recording, and RECORD IT AGAIN with a slightly more relaxed tone). Please use the basic format of: My name is……..I garden in (location)……gratitude in the garden for me is/looks like……..
The clip should be between 30 and 45 seconds.
3. Once done, select your recording(s) and using the Share button (square with an arrow pointing up from it) email it to me (email@example.com) by October 18th.
***To make the audio as clear as possible, please find a quiet location where you can be still, and speak clearly into your device, best method is to use your phone’s headset and hold the little mic deal gently near your mouth.
Nothing is wrong or bad. So far, I’ve heard about wine, and bugs, and labyrinths, fireflies, laughter and tears, so it’s all fair game. Don’t overthink it - just do it. Please….?
I'm looking forward to hearing back from some of you. And if you have any questions or concerns with the process please reach out for more direction!
Until then, gratitude in my garden looks a lot like another season of sharing how our gardens grow us on Cultivating Place.
LINKS TO SEPTEMBER'S CULTIVATING PLACE PROGRAMS
9/28/17 Elizabeth Lawrence and Her Southern Garden
9/21/17 The Healing Power of Gardens, Clare Cooper Marcus
9/17/17 "Cutting Back" with author Leslie Buck
9/07/17 Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, with Mary Ann Newcomer
Above: Welcome autumn! Things to light our path - wise words, beauty, spirit and loving lanterns of fall - pipevine seed pods fashioned into a garland for me by John.
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