It is a blustery day in Cape Breton. The river is dark and capped with waves, the sky is dark and a not-quite uniform grey. The leaves are starting to turn, and we are down to the final few days in the garden, in a race to get the greenhouse covered before it is Too Late. I think I’ve figured out how to attach the ends. Please cross your fingers that I have figured out how to attach the ends. There will be weeping if this one falls down or blows away.
There is a nigh-enforced period of reduced activity in a climate as “temperate” as the one I live in. The inflow of energy is obviously cyclical when you find yourself north of 45. All too soon after the days of swimming and picnics, autumn arrives. The sunlight dims and the temperature falls. It is a matter of weeks before we can anticipate being snowed in, at least for a day or two at a time. We know: it is the time of stews, and blankets, and long sleeves and dark clothes.
I slow down at this time of year, and I just keep getting slower until the end of February or so. I need more sleep, I have difficulty getting going, and I want to stay home a lot.
This is not what our culture allows.
September ramped up my activity level to a point that I started waking up at 4 in the morning. Exhausted, but awake. Mind racing, schedule ruling my life, demands of the schools running through my mind. Gym shoes, school fees, swimming classes, registrations, and the like, overlapping drop-offs and pick ups at times outside of my control and at locations separated by tens of kilometers. Oddly enough, I started having anxiety problems. I cut down on my caffeine, increased my intake of EFA’s, started taking a B-vitamin, made myself go to bed at 10 every night, added meditation and yoga to my calendar on a (nearly) daily basis. (I’m feeling a lot better, actually.)
But why? Why do we do this to ourselves every fall? Just as our bodies are settling into the swamp of lethargy for a nice long stay? Where is the honour for the natural rhythms?
So, over there somewhere, I’m working on a new business. But I won’t be planning a product launch in November. That is a recipe for burning out. It is the time of winter wheat and over-wintered crops. We will lay in the last of the harvest, and bring in the firewood. We will finish planting the garlic. And then we will scale back to the necessary. I will write, and ponder, and consider. And play with my babies, and make bread, and hang out next to the woodstove, and do yin yoga. It is the time for deep rest. Our bodies know.