The season to relax, reflect

We’ve had a long, glorious fall. The leaves have never been this pretty in the 44 years we’ve lived on the prairie.
I love to drive up our winding street to see the bright oranges, reds, and yellows. And the sugar maple tree we planted 25 years ago in memory of my mother is stunning in its red garb.
There have been some chilly nights, so of course the tomato and pepper plants are gone. The brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes have been harvested, but we still have some sturdy greens, like kale.
Our perennial herb garden is still surviving, and the yellow mums at my front door welcome visitors. Nevertheless, it is time to put our garden to bed for the winter.
Of course, autumn comes at different times in different parts of the country. But in her book “Inner Gardening: A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace,” Diane Dreher identifies some typical November tasks.
Plant spring bulbs–tulips, daffodils, and crocuses. Sow wildflower seeds and plant pansies to welcome back the spring.
Consider constructing a crude cold frame for winter lettuce.
Pull out annuals and cut down perennials, putting them on your compost pile. Finally, spread a layer of mulch on your perennials, roses, and bushes.
Then, with your garden ready for the long winter, relax.
“Inner Gardening” is an exploration of the soul. By tending a garden, you also find ways to tend your own inner garden—planting seeds of ideas and dreams, weeding out bad habits, and designing the future. Each in its own season.
“As we set most of our active garden work aside, very little seems to be happening. Yet valuable growth can emerge from winter dormancy in both our gardens and our lives,” writes Dreher.
“In our gardens, there is a time for every purpose: a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to work and a time to wait.”
And November is the time to wait. So sit in your easy chair, look at the seed catalogues, and dream of next year’s garden.
Then take time to find your own meaning in this holiday season. And remember that less is more.
“Our gardens and our lives are healthier when they’re not overcrowded,” Dreher says.
Give up the “busyness” of life and reduce the complications. Choose to simplify. Don’t follow the rituals that are stressors for you.
Decide to appreciate the natural rhythm of late fall and early winter cycles, taking time for quiet contemplation.
“With its fallen leaves, nitrogen cycles, and keen evidence of the changing seasons, November reminds me of the interconnectedness of life,” writes Dreher.
This season is a natural time to consider the web of experiences and relationships that make up your life. Consider how past and present intertwine.
And above all, use the holidays as a chance to reconnect with friends and family.
Be willing to flow with the natural rhythm of the season. With some down time this fall and winter, you and your garden both will be ready for a cycle of new growth when spring comes again.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.
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