I feel the coolness gently touch my face as it drifts through the window screen, and I know summer is coming to its end.
And though Indian summer hides in wait for its call to jump out and play its games with hot days and cool nights, my watermelon patch is privy to the cycle and has stopped flowering, concentrating the last bit of growth on the remaining fruit.
The autumnal equinox – Sept. 22 this year – indicates when fall begins, a time when day and night hang in balance, a side-by-side alignment of our world and the sun before our section of the hemisphere starts tipping away for longer nights and shorter, cooler days.
For me it’s a time when I breathe a silent sadness that summer fun – with kids laughing in the backyard pools and carefree gatherings of friends on vacation – come to an end.
But fall bequeaths its own elements so we can wind down and reconnect to Mother Earth before the onset of winter. Living here in Southern California has helped us to consciously forget the four seasons. We must remember fall speaks of toning down our excesses of summer and coming back into balance in all aspects of life. We do that by grounding ourselves.
Picture summer as running and skipping through each day, jumping from one joyful moment to another, yet it is fall where we begin to plant our two feet back in a firm stance to reconnect to earth while we lift our hands up to receive the last intense rays from the waning sun. Winter might not bring snow to us Southlanders, but it does mean we are aligned differently with the sun as the earth’s wobble takes away from its warmth and lets us cool down and become more internal in our ways.
All of nature knows this. The trees shifting colors from greens to yellow, orange and brown. Birds flying on their southerly journeys. Squirrels preparing their nests for a sound winter sleep.
And of the many different ways we too can ground and prepare for winter, foods lend us not only nutrition but also a way to come back to earth from our highs of summer. The most obvious on the list are the root vegetables, having grown deep within the dark quiet earth absorbing not only earthy elements such as minerals but also rhythmic pulse that resonates inside our world. All living things – which include us humans – sync with the Earth’s rhythmic beat, and no doubt eating these earthy roots leads us into a more harmonic state with the world.
Beets, parsnips, and rutabaga all are vegetables loaded with heavy elements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron which help build our own bone structure, oxygenation of cells, and electrical pulses.
Where summers are made for loads of raw salads, fruits and steamed vegetables keeping us light and airy and playful, fall and winter speak of bringing more warmth to the foods with spices and cooking to complement the cooling temperatures outside. Spices such as turmeric, ginger and cayenne as well as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are all warming for the body and therefore a great addition to soups, sauces and overall cooking of meals.
I’m a turmeric fiend, sprinkling the beautiful yellow-orange powder on everything from avocado sandwiches to sautéed brussels sprouts. These spices help spin digestion and work well with heavier meals taken during the coming seasons.
It is also good to include reds in the diet, the color associated with the root chakra. (A Sanskrit word meaning wheel or turning, chakra indicates a vital point in our body predominant in collecting energy.) Pomegranates are in season, the juicy little red seeds loaded with all good stuff along with red apples, another fall delight. Late harvest tomatoes, red potatoes, and red onions are perfect in soups or added to meals.
Grounding also means gradually working our was indoors so we can spend time nestled in our homes from early nightfall and all during the lovely rainy days. I realize our beautiful sun-filled days last most winter long, but there is an adjustment unseen that our bodies connect and shift with in the turning of the earth. Understand, fall is not just less daylight, but a different positioning of our world within the universe, where a resonance resounds deeply for us to seize.
To ground into this profound source we must acknowledge change and move through this equinox with a graceful thank you for the summer pleasures we enjoyed and peacefully make our way into the season we call autumn.