Nature puts out its biggest bounty in autumn.
As the Earth tilts closer to the sun, days become shorter and nights become longer, and all forms of life prepare in one way or another for the winter ahead.
Look up to the sky. You may see flocks of birds seeking a warmer climate – their favored destination in Africa.
Take a close peek at the ground. Autumn is the busiest time of year for animals – many seeking mates to curl up with in the winter months. Squirrels busy themselves stockpiling nuts and acorns that they bury in the ground. Other animals like hedgehogs, bats and bears gorge themselves to put on some extra fat to keep them warm as they sleep over the long months ahead. Ladybugs and butterflies try to find their way indoors for a warm place to hide.
And the foliage! As the sunlight wanes, trees put on a most magnificent show – their leaves turning from green into the glorious colors of red, yellow, ochre and burnt orange. This magnificent show is truly nature’s grand finale.
Foraging is about preparing for winter. It’s about the hunt. While animals forage for survival, for humans it’s more of an instinctual desire to cozy up the house for the cold winter months ahead. And why not? When winter arrives and we are forced to spend so much time indoors, why wouldn’t we want our homes to feel inviting and even inspiring? We will enjoy that comfortable blanket we threw over the sofa to curl up in at night. We will appreciate nature’s beauty when we bring it inside, such as with a terrarium for the kitchen (a world within a world), a dramatic spray of magnolia branches in a glass vase for the foyer, or a feathery arrangement of Miscanthus sinensis plumes in the living room. It’s all a bit romantic.
We receive such joy when we use our hands and our hearts to create something that makes us feel good inside. Foraging brings a soul-satisfying connection to the Earth. This fall, take a long walk in nature. See how gratifying it is to scavenge for the bounties of nature and then bring them home to use in our homes. Perhaps take an afternoon to go apple picking. Or find a wooded path and look for berries, grapes, or Chanterelle mushrooms to use in making delectables like jellies and jams, pies, teas, or casseroles.. (Warning – know what you eat before eating a wild mushroom!) Foraging feels pure and primitive and ……..
Don’t stop there. As you look around your home, think of small ways to prepare it for a cozy fall and winter. Fill your home with a feeling of warmth and comfort. Plan to keep yourself stimulated with an interesting project or two. Perhaps buy a selection of books you’d love to read and place them near the fireplace in anticipation of a warm fire in your future. Or think of a craft like scrapbooking or painting that will stimulate your mind and bring you joy. Purchase a few small vases to fill with fresh greenery picked from outdoors and have them ready to place around your home. Prepare your home to welcome guests over the holidays by planning your winter table, complete with a winter-themed table setting. Get the candles out. Plan a winter garden.
Find little ways to bring great happiness and peace into the home and into your life this winter. But do take advantage of the fall – for it is a short but most miraculous season.