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:
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: