Fall Equinox: A Kingdom of Chard

End of summer always breaks my heart. Even in the garden, I look at the burgeoning blooms and bounty as they wane and think, this is the last of this crop, that’s the last of that. So many ends of things.

Today, I was stunned to learn of the death my beloved aunt in Russia. At 95, she was my mother’s only sister, and the person (besides B.) that I love most in this world. Having lived through the historic convulsions of most of the twentieth century – losing her father to the gulag system for a decade, my mother when she immigrated, and her dear husband when he died suddenly – she was no stranger to heartbreak. Yet what I associate with her most was her merry face and bright eyes as she told a mischievous joke, took in the fresh air in her garden, and told me the story of our family – beginning with, “I was not afraid.” She was an extraordinary, towering figure in my life.

And, I’d just recently lost one of my oldest and dearest friends, a woman I met as a teenager and knew for nearly 40 years. I’m struck by how hard it’s hit me. “Please come visit; this might be the last time!” she’d say in her later years (of course none of us could know how long she had left). She was one day shy of 97, and bedridden after a broken hip failed to heal – so it was certainly no surprise. I feel as if both women have taken part of me now that they’re gone, tho I’ll always carry them in my heart.

Of course, with ends also come beginnings; without death, there would be no life. With the ends of caterpillar pupae come the metamorphoses into butterfly chrysalis; the ends of plant growing cycles bring new energy and seeds for the next season. And so it is with us, as we begin a new phase of life. As I look at the engorged pumpkins grown from seeds saved by my family in Russia, B. and I celebrate the basil scent wafting across the garden through clouds of bees, our fists full of mint and chard and beans. With the shorter days and plants going to seed and shutting down crop production – storing sugars deep in their interiors and roots over the winter, we’ll soon wind down the garden to begin the season of turning inward – now of mourning, and start preparing for the next growing year.



About thislittleplot

Writer, hiker, loafer
This entry was posted in Family, Friends, Garden, Nature, Seasons, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Fall Equinox: A Kingdom of Chard

  1. owlwoman says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You’re right – we do lose part of ourselves when dearly loved ones pass. I don’t have the words to make this better – I know that’s not possible – just take things a day, an hour at a time if need be. You’re in my thoughts.

  2. Amy Shiflett says:

    So sorry for your loss, Betty! You always honor the solstice so beautifully! I look forward.to reading it each season. <3

  3. Janet Parker says:

    I’m so sorry about the loss of both of those dear women in your life. After 40 years of friendship, my own closest friend just died 3 weeks ago, a week shy of her 68th birthday and I am so sad.
    Actually, this is usually a happy time for me, the Jewish New Year, when all things seem possible and fresh.

    • I’m so sorry, Janet; that’s just devastating. I hope you can take time to grieve as you need, and can take comfort in your long friendship and in your loving family! All my love to you.

  4. So sorry to hear about your losses! Your aunt sounds like she was an incredible woman.

    However, regarding summer, I’m quite happy it’s ending. Now that I’m goin to be back in the Great Lakes region for the winter, I feel my expectancy growing with each passing day. I love winter in this part of the country: its harshness and stark beauty appeals to me in a way that more comfortable seasons never do.

    • Thanks so much; I appreciate your reading and thoughtful sentiments, as always. I look forward to visiting that part of the country again sometime soon; it is indeed gorgeous and somehow its “northern-ness” is comforting in its starkness, I agree.

  5. marmysz says:

    Endings affect me the same way; and they do so more profoundly the older that I get. Your reflections are sad, but hopeful. Thanks for writing this.

  6. utherben says:

    Deepest condolences on the passing of your aunt, how devastating…yet what is remembered lives, and you have all those stories and beautiful photos (& mischievous jokes) to recall her by. My heart <3 is with you.

  7. Shonna says:

    How lovely your post was. I was saddened to hear about your dear Aunt and your good friend leaving this world, especially in such rapid succession. My heart goes out to you. I love you.
    Samhain is coming, I will be sure to think of both of them as I light candles and reflect.

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