Thanks All Around

24 11 2010
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

This Thanksgiving, you may or may not be looking for some new things for which to be thankful around your table. Whichever the case, allow me to suggest that we can be thankful:

  • That nature is resilient. With all of the scary things we’ve done to it over the centuries, nature still filters our water, produces our oxygen, and takes our breath away with beautiful sights.
  • That we’ve come a long way. Since the beginning of the environmental movement, we’ve risen to the challenges of learning to recycle, slowing ozone loss, and conserving shrinking habitats. Things could be a lot worse, and there is reason to hope that they can get even better.
  • That God provides. No matter what your situation in life, the natural world can and does sustain you and comfort you, giving both literal and figurative nourishment.

And lastly . . .

  • That you’re not a pilgrim. Life was super hard back then, and even in dire circumstances, at least we don’t have to contend with wolves and angry natives as we prepare our harvest feast.

Enjoy the earth’s bounty this Thanksgiving!

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Autumn Pastimes

17 11 2010
Macro pinecone

Image via Wikipedia

If you grew up in a temperate region, you had leaves falling at this time of year. Do you remember jumping in the leaves? Do you remember raking up the leaves into the biggest pile you could, only for the reward of jumping headlong into their earthy mystery?

Perhaps you didn’t have leaves, but you loved collecting pine cones.  You’d bring them inside and show an adult, as proud as if you had made them yourself. Or maybe  you played football every Thanksgiving, reveling in the crisp air and muddy ground.

Harvest time, no matter where you live, has magical powers. If you don’t believe this,  you may need to spend more time remembering how it used to be. Once you’ve done that, pick an activity and help encourage a child who may not know what wonders await outside, even as the days grow shorter.

Rake the leaves, even if you know you’ll have to do it again later. Glue some leaves together into beautiful placemats. Pick up the pine cones, and proudly display them on your Thanksgiving mantle. Head out for some football and return, out of breath, with rosy cheeks.

Seasonal pastimes are as close as your memories.





Making It Yourself

1 11 2010

Let necessity be the mother of your inventions. When you have a need or want but would rather not spend, see what alternative you could make yourself. Examples:

  • Recently, I was bored with my selection of pants, so I dug out the pair I had been unhappy with and figured out (with not much formal sewing knowledge) that I could make a little alteration. Voila – favorite new pants!
  • Since all the billboards began popping up in September, I’ve been craving a pumpkin spice latte. Today I realized that there are usually internet instructions for store-bought favorites. Sure enough, I give you: DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. It is cheaper than Starbucks, if you have the ingredients on hand and use the rest of the pumpkin for something else.
  • Finally, something I can’t wait to try, courtesy of Martha Stewart: accessories made with old jewelry and ribbons.

One caveat: these do-it-yourself projects can become addicting. That being said, do you have any good and crafty links to share?





Autumn Reflections

17 10 2010

 


North Quabbin Woods, MA, 2010

 

Much is made of autumn’s clear relationship to death. For some, this is reason enough to discount the season and its joys. But perhaps even those who cannot dare to contemplate death – in general or their own – can begin to learn the lessons autumn brings about dealing with aging.

As leaves in the northern hemisphere die, their green chlorophyll retreats, uncovering the glorious other colors that were there all along. These pigments capitalize on the weaker, slanted light of Fall to capture the final food of the growing season. Just so, as we age, some things fall away, such as youthful innocence and energy. If, however, we are attentive to our own autumn’s rewards, we can unmask the wisdom and perseverance that grew beneath the initial protection of our earlier strengths.

When leaves finish their work and fall the ground, they become rich food for many creatures and fertilization for next summer’s green leaves. Just so, even as we mourn the ending of chapters in our lives, their fruit will enrich the seasons to come with knowledge and experience.

Finally, even as the trees are laid bare, we can recognize in this vulnerable landscape the new and different beauty of honesty and character that lays beneath our fleeting appearances and remains when all our vanities are stripped away. This is the hardest lesson for many of us to accept, and a concept that even the young (like myself) struggle with as they reach new milestones.

It is my prayer that we can all enjoy the physical and spiritual rewards of autumn’s finery, this year and every year going forward, until we smile at is comforting messages in our lives.

Autumn is a second spring
Where every leaf is a flower
~ Albert Camus





Green 2.0: Seasonal Joys

13 10 2010

I can’t fool you: we are talking about pleasures again. I just got tired of writing the word.

Although you’ve probably heard it before, it’s true as can be: in our industrialized society, it can be hard to feel at home in our natural surroundings, which are essentially the seasons. If we are unpracticed in the art of savoring each season’s joys, we may focus only on its sorrows. Spring is muddy; summer, hot; autumn gloomy; winter . . . well, you know all about that if you live north of Florida.

The poet Thoreau once said, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” So much of our struggle with nature – and I do include myself – is the feeling that we must be in control. That we must rage against the dying of the light, to quote another poet. What travelers tend to find so quaint about indigenous peoples is really their joyful resignation to the influences – good and otherwise – of their world. Natives know how to navigate nature and find the best in it because they live in it – and with it.

We can learn this. It must be a gentle courtship. Buy some of the season’s fruits at a farm stand. Make a recipe with seasonal ingredients (try About.com’s Local Foods). Or simply sit outside, in any weather, for just a few minutes. See how the light is different than three months ago.

What are your seasonal joys?








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