It’s just before 7:00 AM, the sky is dark and cloudy, the sun is still sleeping. Winds have been raging all night, and from the comfort of my bed, I gaze out the window and watch the trees dance. In the distance, I hear the rooster crow, the duck quack: maybe they are rejoicing in the power of Autumn storms as I am.
I could lay here for the rest of my days and watch these storms, listen to the thunderous breeze, embrace the scent of newly-felled fir branches wafting in through the open window.
We are moving into my favorite time of year: autumn and winter, which also blends into spring here where I live, equating to nearly 8 months of dark, wet, sometimes stormy, cool days with exceptionally long nights. The long dark season of quiet, rest, contemplation, and expectant waiting. The perfect time to nurture a growing life inside of me.
In the old earth-based religions from the part of the world my ancestors come from, this time of the year– the settling in of storms, cooler days, and consistent rains–marks the beginning of the new year, the turning of the wheel. The wise old ones knew that birth and newness started in the dark, and if we pay attention to nature’s cues we can see how true that is even today.
In my garden, medicinal plant seeds need the harshness of winter to “scarify” their seed coating and prepare them for germination in the spring.
Garlic bulbs are nestled under 6” of mulch and soil, to emerge as young tender green shoots in March. Fruit trees set their buds now and hold them tightly closed til the sun’s rays get stronger, in February. On a walk through the forest, I know that my leafy friends–twinflower, bracken fern, and hedge nettle–have wilted down to the ground, leaving their seeds tucked in the earth and underground rhizomes teeming with subdued life, just waiting for nature’s instructions to reawaken in another 6 months. And of course, it’s all happening inside of me too: conception starts in the dark wet home of the womb, never to see the light of day until 9 or 10 months pass by and nature’s cues tell this new seed, this baby, it is time to emerge.
It’s miraculous how all of life follows this pattern. This holding and waiting and gaining strength in the dark months when, to our conditioned modern human eyes, it appears as if nothing is happening, everything is dead.
And eventually, death will come to every form of life, just as nature dictates. One day I will die, my body then becoming food for the rest of the earth–or at least the little plot of earth I call home–to nourish something else giving birth and growing into life. Maybe a mushroom, maybe a cedar tree, maybe a wild rose.
This continual wheel of life and nature’s guidance helps me find some semblance of solace in my beautiful sweet baby dying far too soon.
She is a part of this wheel of life, just as we all are, and the mysteries and tragedies of the nuances of this wheel are never quite as dependable as we would like. Also, I would not know this new life growing inside of me were it not for my first baby’s death. I wish, in some alternative universe, I could have both babies, that both would be in my arms, that they could know each other as siblings, that we would have infinite memories all together as a family. But that is not so. Nature has its unpredictable and complex rhythms, and though I scream at it and don’t understand it and curse the unfairness of it all, the rest of us here are left to keep on living, despite the deaths we hold inside of us forever.