Outside on a blue-sky day, I scan the decidous forest seeking signs of Autumn: touches of yellow and brown dot the canopy; maples, sassafras, and oaks still green. Black walnut trees are mostly bare, with remaining yellow-green fruit defying gravity like ornaments on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Two walnuts the size of my hand lie on the mossy earth among acorns. I palm one and scratch its rough surface, releasing its citrusy, astringent scent.
Tilting my head back, I spot curled brown leaves high up. Are those dying ash trees? Or is it time for them to lose their leaves? Their winged seeds droop from branches in large clusters. Yet top branches are already bare. Worried I’ll lose the many ash trees in these woods to the invasive emerald ash borer infesting the region, I implore the trees: put on a glamour, pretend you are something else. Sassafras or hickory–yes, those scents are strong. Disguise your pheromones with pungent volatiles of other tree species. Please!
I’ve already grieved the eastern hemlocks lost to the woolly adelgid. I’ve grieved for the many trees we lost during Hurricane Sandy, still lying on the ground–ash, tulip poplars, maples–pointing west, the direction of sunset and endings.
Just past deadly hurricanes and earthquakes, with men in power beating their chests in a hyperbolic race to annihilate life, there is so much to grieve in the world now.
Yet, the Equinox is a time of balance.
For all the horror, the injustice, the climate disasters, there is so much love and beauty. So much delight. From communities coming together to care for one another amidst tragedy to the splendid colors and scents of the natural world, from micro to macro situations and vistas, take time for beauty and delight. Let it feed you, strengthen you during troubling times.
Blessed Equinox, my friends (Fall in the northern hemisphere, Spring in the southern).