by Christine Sine
This morning I turned on the kitchen lights when I got up in the morning. It’s the first time since summer began. We still expect warm days and abundant harvests for the next month or so, but this is my first warning that the seasons are about to change. It reminds me of when I worked in Jamaica. One of the common road signs read You Have Been Warned. It didn’t tell you whether there was a sharp curve or a pothole ahead, you just knew that it was time to be alert and keep your eyes open for change.
Change is the most constant aspect of our world. Seasons change, lives change, the world changes and our faith changes. In our lazy enjoyment of summer beauty and relaxation, it is easy to bury our heads in the sand and forget. Yet deep down we know change is coming and we all need to think about how to get ourselves ready and August is a good time to prepare.
As I thought about this over the last few days I realized that August has much to teach us about autumn and winter. You have been warned – It is time to plan! The more I thought about this the more I wanted to share so have decided to write 3 posts on August planning:
- Planning to plant.
- Planning for storage.
- Planning for harvest.
Be Alert To the Signs
What are the signs around you that suggest change is on its way and you need to prepare? To be honest I don’t always prepare well (yep that is one of my imperfections!) I am a hot weather person and hate to think that summer may be on its way out. It’s easy to ignore the changes and procrastinate on my preparations for the changing seasons. I don’t want to be a killjoy either. I want to enjoy the rest of the summer to its full. But I do need to be alert to the signs that autumn and winter are on their way and change is coming. Being alert means I can plan well to both embrace and accept change without fear or regret.
Preparing for autumn and winter in the garden is all about planning – with realistic expectations for the seasons that don’t need hothouses and grow lights to be productive.
What seeds should we plant now in preparation for the season ahead? August may be the hottest month in Seattle, and prime time for vacations but it is also the time to plant for fall and winter harvests. In fact I have been doing that over the weekend. However what I plant is different from my spring garden. I don’t plant tomatoes and squash that need heat to mature.
First I plant spinach, Asian greens, broccoli and root crops that I know will enjoy the cooler weather and mature quickly before the frost. I also plant overwintering crops that can get a good start now then sit dormant through the coldest months before maturing early in spring next year. Next I plan to plant autumn shrubs – perennials like blueberries and spring bulbs like daffodils and garlic. They may not show any growth until next year, but if I plant them in the autumn they send down deep roots that anchor them firmly in the year ahead. Last of all I plant cover crops that hold the soil together over the winter and then are tilled in in early spring to give a boost of nitrogen for next year’s crops.
Plant for Winter Slow Down.
I realize that I need to show the same responsibility in planting for growth and harvest in my body, soul and spirit. What new practices can I plant now that will enrich the upcoming seasons? How do I plan for autumn and winter soul harvests in the Northern hemisphere – fast growing, cool loving greens and root crops whose sweetness is enhanced by the first winter frost? Or in the Southern Hemisphere for the longer harvest season of spring and summer?
Once again it’s all about planning! And that planning needs to be both responsible and realistic just like my garden planning. If you are heading into Fall and winter as we are, it is good to remember that just as garden growth slows as the weather cools, so does the pace of our bodies and spirits. Our bodies create more rest. Maybe the lead up to Christmas is not meant to be the hectic and exhausting season we have made it into.
Plant for Root Growing.
What are the spiritual equivalents of perennials that need the winter to send down deep roots I wonder? For me it is scripture study and memorization. As I get ready for the winter this is a great time to get back into the disciplines of study. This year Jane Mossendew’s beautiful trilogy Gardening with God three books that walk us through the liturgical seasons of the year with plants to guide us each week. I am currently into The Crown of the Year. It’s really more about summer, but I am finding that her historical and liturgical insights are refreshing and give focus to any season.
What Spiritual Seeds Are We Sowing?
What seeds do we need to plant now that can provide food in the seasons ahead? Perhaps plan a retreat and away days – it’s time to get them on your calendar now before life gets too busy. Or create some spiritual tools and mindfulness exercises that will remind you to slow down and invite you to reflect and meditate. I have just purchased some canvas prints of a few of my prayer cards with this in mind. They will feature prominently in my sacred space over the next few months as a reminder of what the pace of my spiritual life is meant to be like. I take some deep breaths in and out, recite a prayer and spend a short time in silence each morning. It renews me in ways that nothing else does.
I am also thinking about my own desires for Advent and Christmas – how do I plan now so that these seasons are not hectic and overwhelming? What are the “cover crops” I need in my life that will protect the vulnerable soil in my soul in my soul and keep it safe over the winter? What elements will I add to my sacred space? What do I want my Advent and Christmas meditation gardens to look like?
What Is Your Response?
One of my life scriptures is Psalm 31:14-15 But I pour my trust into You, Eternal One. I’m glad to say, “You are my God!” I give the moments of my life over to You, Eternal One. Particularly in times of change it is a great reminder that I do not control the future, God does.
Change is coming whether we like it or not. Watch the video below. Reflect on the changes you are facing in your life in the next few months.
What plans can you make now to weather the winter (or summer) well? What can you plant now that will nourish you over the Advent and Christmas seasons?
Let’s get prepared and remember our times are indeed in God’s hands. And keep your eyes open for next week’s post on planning for storage.