With the end of October, we are deep in the season of harvest, storing food for the long winter ahead. Fresh leafy produce gives way to hardier stuff, as we turn squashes to soup and pumpkins to pie (after the jack-o'-lantern, perhaps). Applesauce and pear butter fill jars. Onions and potatoes line root cellars. Walking our neighborhood each evening - earlier and earlier as light fades sooner - we noticed a garden spilling over with late, ripe tomatoes.
It seems a natural human impulse to mark the changing cycles of the year with festivals and rituals that reinforce our sense of belonging to these cycles, or our wish to master them, or both. Afraid of the growing dark? Create bonfires and light candles in every doorway; give wandering mischievous spirits sweet gifts to keep them moving on, away from us.
Changing seasons also reflect our changing lives. We celebrate growing up, growing old, we honor our loved ones who have died, and we celebrate our ongoing connections to them. Spring will bring chances to celebrate youth and beauty and new beginnings. In autumn, we honor age and wisdom and conclusions.
All rituals and celebrations come with songs and poems and stories to mark them. In these words, we pass their reasons for being and the hard-earned knowledge from one generation to the next. In these words, we preserve the harvest of meaning and connection, every bit as important as the harvest of food.
I hope your autumn celebrations are filled with wondrous, glorious, generous, spooky, reaffirming stories!
Elizabeth Fountain writes gently humorous tales of aliens and angels, love and death, and of course dogs who save the world. You can find her novels "An Alien's Guide to World Domination" and "You, Jane" at your favorite e-book retailers.