Then Summer Yields to Fall

We could not have trained this peach tree more elegantly if we had tried. A leading branch bent completely to the orchard floor, heavy with fruit along the way. Just one of Nature's gifts: that of marvelous design, in action!  

As Summer ends I am drawn to awaken. Fall, and the Rains, just beginning and so necessary right now, as we all know, provide a space to enter deeply, a process that includes stretching out, rubbing one's eyes open for a new and thoughtful vision to unfold. Limbs, tired from Summer's routine and hustle, slow down. Hands busily collect next year's potent seeds and work to preserve the harvest, but they are no longer as chapped, muddied, or cramped as they have been. My eyeballs appreciate the shortening days and lower position of the sun in the sky and my mind is allowed to begin to think beyond schedules, itineraries, to-do lists on small pieces of paper that float around the office, my pockets, my car console. The lists, and all of it, move from being scattered and scattering to clear, simplified, as I awaken during this special, autumnal time of year.

Rudolf Steiner begins to describe the rhythmic nature of life, or the movement from Summer's etheric body to Autumn's astral body, like this:   

It is wrong to compare the waking state of man, from waking up until going to sleep, with the summer; on the contrary, this very waking state must be compared in the Earth-Nature around us, with the winter, and the summer is analogous with the sleeping state of man. So we can say, to use this comparison: Man goes to sleep, that means he enters the summer of his personal existence, and when he wakes he progresses to the winter of his personal existence; and the waking state would roughly correspond to the previous autumn, the winter and the earliest spring. Why would that correspond to the facts? Because when we really progress in the way mentioned, to being a member of the whole Earth organism, then we must indeed take into account how that which is the Spirit of the Earth sleeps in summer; that is the actual sleeping state of the Earth, the great consciousness of the Spirit of the Earth withdraws.
— R.S., Etheric Man Within Physical Man, 1915

Why, as a gardener, as a farmer, should one care about the body's relation to sleep, mindfulness, the ego's and physical relationships to the changing Seasons? I've had organic farmers, whose work and values I respect very much, tell me that they did not have time for biodynamics, for applying the mysterious preparations or even attempting to build fertility, via diverse compost, on-site. I wondered, often, if there was something deeper that they didn't want to tell me, because I was, and remain, enthusiastic about biodynamic practices. The excuse, though, was that their production model just wouldn't allow for it; they literally could not make the time for anything additional with so many other, pressing things to do on the farm. I empathize with this and acknowledge that we do live in a world that tells us that we're always short on time, that we need to be more efficient, to constantly "upgrade."

Yet, when I acknowledge myself as one part of a bigger whole, I take real responsibility for the world that I live in. I become a steward, a shepherd, a healer, and I've certainly seen the plants, the trees, and the animals respond to this. I also try to be true to the real reason that I do this work. For me, the peace that quiet, focused time in a beautiful, vibrant, and living setting can yield is sacred. The challenges abound, constantly, as every gardener knows, but I draw on the meditation process that goes hand-in-hand with the acute ability to observe that I've developed (and am always developing). To really see, hear, and respond to what the soil needs, what the pollinators need, what the plants need, all to strengthen the whole and become more resilient as partners -- wow! -- this is a key! I work hard to slow down enough to give the gift of teaching some of the aspects of Biodynamic gardening to our amazing interns - all of whom are on their own unique journeys yet contribute so much to our program, and to our gardens. This is a gift, too, in its own rite.

Tori, a Summer intern who just finished our program last week, had this to say about her experience:    

Since working at Delphi I’ve become more aware of what it really takes to keep soil healthy. The benefits and pitfalls of crop rotation. The effects of drought stress on plants. Honestly, the effects of EVERYTHING on plants. I felt like I was conducting 15 different experiments with soil, light, water, turkeys, seeds, all at once, all summer...I have a much better sense of the rhythms of the trees and vegetables, the timing, the surprises, the long haul.
The person gets to know the great experience of identifying himself with the Earth Spirit. From this moment on he says: I don’t only live in my skin; like the cell in my organism, so do I live in the organism of the Earth. The Earth sleeps in summer and wakes in winter, as I sleep and wake in the changes of the day. And as the cell stands to my consciousness, so do I stand to the consciousness of the Earth.
— Rudolf Steiner, Occult Significance of the Baghavad Gita, 1913

Until next year, dear squash blossoms, we thank you for your seemingly-unending abundance, your fruit's nutrition, and the joy that your form brings to our Summer Gardens. Au revoir!