I always have such mixed emotions when harvest time comes around. On the one hand, I am happy to see all of my hard work bear fruit - and veggies! On the other hand, my days of working outdoors in the sun accompanied by birdsong and cows calling are coming to an end. They will be replaced with time spent indoors all warm and cozy while soups bubble on the stove, and my yarn and crochet hooks lay in the bag next to my chair waiting for me to turn them into Christmas gifts of slippers and mittens.
I picked the last of the harvest a few weeks ago. I walked out one autumn morning to see the blueberry bushes from the blueberry farm across the way all standing naked and pruned amidst a sea of green tinged with light frost like silent soldiers, their work done for this year. Down below the sun sent sparkling crystal shards across the surface of the pond while all around the noisy geese talked among themselves, probably taking a vote to see if it was time to move on to the next leg of their journey south. The scent of wood smoke from the farmhouse nearby wafted past my nose and the air was suddenly filled with the thunderous flapping of hundreds of starlings that rose out of the pine trees like a huge black cloud to perform their aerial ballet against a crisp blue sky.
Harvest time is that part of the gardening year when you get to see what worked, what didn't work, what needs to be pulled and discarded, and what can be turned under to nourish the soil over the winter. My tomatoes did well, as did my lettuce. Basil and parsley was a bumper crop, and my spearmint continues to grow like a weed in the pot in my kitchen. The lavender has been a touch and go situation. I got different plants from different nurseries, and it is apparent which one I will be giving my business to next year, and which one did not have plants hardy enough to withstand the wind and cold up on this hill. Some of the other flowers and herbs just didn't make the cut and they have been pulled out and sent to the compost pile. Everywhere else, the soil has been turned and the falling leaves have reinvented themselves as mulch. The outside garden is done for the year, so now I'm turning my attention to my inner garden.
What worked for me this year? What bloomed and created bounty for me, and what just did not manifest because it was not meant to, or because the time was not right? Which beliefs held up and carried me forward, and which had to be pulled and discarded because they no longer served me? Which ones can I hang on to, turning them over in the soil of my soul to nurture and grow the next sets of intentions I plant there? What will I plant next year to bloom in place of the beliefs that withered and died from the top to the roots?
This is the perfect time of the year to harvest our lives. As we prepare for the celebration of Thanksgiving next week, it only makes sense that, while we are giving thanks for all that we have and all that has worked in our lives this year, we also take stock of what hasn't worked and what changes we need to make in our own gardens to have even more to be thankful for next year. Each year will, of course, have its ups and downs, its bounties and its weeds. The true gardener who practices her craft with love and good intentions will likely end up with even more wonderful things to harvest every year.
And so it is.