Southern Crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis)
September is a time of deep emotional and spiritual reflection for me.
A month of magic and mystical occurrences – past and present – September is a month in which I spend a great deal of time “within”, in introspection, plugging in to my intuitive self, paying attention.
September holds anniversaries of important events and great change in my life.
Companionship gained. Companionship lost.
Unfinished business. Conversations still needing to take place.
Trust gained. Trust lost.
September finds me yearning for the cool crisp mornings and evenings of Midwestern Septembers, while it is still very much hot summer here in the Southeast (98 degrees Fahrenheit on 9/29/19, for Pete’s sake!). September heat and dryness makes me weary. Dry brown and yellowing leaves have begun to drift down from the tree tops. The vibrant colors of the summer flowers have faded, for they appear to share my weariness. No amount of water from my garden hose seems to restore their vigor. The lawn is dry, thinning, and downright crunchy in places.
And yet, this September, a bit of “new-to-me” magic has revealed itself. This magic is very old and very wise. It springs from Mother Earth and it is good magic. It provides a very necessary food source for the wild ones and a very much appreciated source of visual beauty and a spiritual salve for me. It is a sign of two of Mother Earth’s Superpowers – Abundance & Healing.
For, this September, late-summer blooming native plants have appeared, in abundance, in the wild places on our property, and along roadsides and “wild edges” I pass by on my daily/weekly travels.
In general, I have to think that last year’s huge amount of rainfall and subsequent daily/weekly flooding played an important part in this year’s abundant blooms. The massive soaking that began in late August 2018 and which continued through April 2019 most likely transported and distributed seeds via overflowing ditches, creeks, and flooded rivers. The area in which we live has a “normal” annual precipitation of about 44”. From 1/1/2018 to 12/31/2018 we received about 68” of rain and snow. Our cup runneth over. The ground remained completely saturated. With each new rainstorm, massive trees just leaned over and laid down, their root systems pulled free of the soupy soil, leaving open craters where they had once been anchored firmly to the Earth. Gulleys and washes formed on saturated slopes, the red clay soil exposed and slipping downward.
For sure, soil and seed landed and mixed together along banks, riparian buffers, and woodsy edges. And the continued above-average rainfall that fell through April ensured germination and rooting.
On our small piece of property, the abundance of late-summer flowering natives and the continuing presence of all sorts of pollinators, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, is a powerful acknowledgement that we are heading in the right direction – following the lead of Mother Earth…..
A journey that began with a succession of unintentional actions and in-actions, on our part, and which now continues with an intentional purpose of nuturing, protecting, and improving habitat…….
A journey that ballooned with feelings of frustration, blame, turmoil, and a constant swirl of ‘out-of-control / never being caught up’ thoughts and words – all mixed in and mixed up with a time of life and series of events that brought copious amounts of sadness, guilt, isolation, and grief……
A journey that opened up into comfort and joy…..just about a year ago…….
It was as if something began to gently nudge me and encourage me to look a little closer…..to see beyond the swirling thoughts and the “scorecard” I still carried with me from a much different time in my life, and a much different mindset…..to begin to notice and connect with what Mother Earth has been busily healing and re-creating during my years of distraction.
Looking back, now, with my vision and my senses much clearer than before – if only I had been able to hear her then, I’m sure she was telling me “Don’t worry, I got this! You focus on what you need to do, and let me show you what I can do! Let me run with this – I have the wisdom and the resources, and if you give me the reigns and some time, we can do great things together!”
Where the big trees came down last year, there is new growth everywhere. I assumed that would be the case, but I have been stunned by the abundance of new growth, the variety of plants and seedling trees, and the growth rate exhibited! I began to really take note of all the newness and the absolute flush of new green and blossoms and fungi – the healing – in the Spring months. I have continued to be amazed throughout the summer, and still now, as the dry conditions and the heat wear on into autumn. I am very much looking forward to working outdoors this winter and into the spring – adding more native plants to stabilize and hold the streambank, removing aggressive vines and poison ivy, and adding new understory shrubs and small trees which will provide food and nesting space for the birds. Most of all, I’m looking forward to finding out what magic and surprises Mother Earth has in store. I’ll be paying attention, taking note, and doing my best to follow her lead.
“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
~ Wendell Berry ~