As the nights get cooler and the food in the garden overflows, it is time for preservation. Putting away for the winter feels natural somehow, despite the ways in which globalization and technology have made it technically unnecessary. This distance between where food grows on the earth and where we actually live and breathe has many consequences -- some good, some bad. But turning summer foods into something bright and wonderful to crack into in the cold of winter feels like alchemy.
It also feels like a lot of work. I feel fortunate to live in a time and place where this work is a source of fun and inspiration. Not too long ago it was about making it through winter alive. Technology has changed our relationship to this time of year in other ways -- in our agricultural past it was a time of harvest and preparation for what lay ahead. Now it is a time to get back to the regular work schedule and back to school, to set new goals and start new regimes. It can be manic and really, really busy.
Keeping some preservation-mind in one's awareness can be helpful. Despite the ways in which we are protected from winter's challenges, it is still a long season in the Northern Hemisphere. It requires reserves in body, mind and spirit. Just as people used to call Spring 'the starving season' because it was when reserves ran out and the new shoots were not ready to eat, modern people in the North often run out of fuel in February and March. Taking care and spending time embracing the bounty of late summer pays dividends in the long night ahead.