I don’t remember the exact moment that I thought my roses had stopped blooming, but I know it must have been at least two weeks ago. Rose bushes look so forlorn when they finish blooming. The leaves wither and start to fall and I’m left with bare vines draped over a trellis my husband whipped up one Sunday afternoon, a couple of years ago.
This year, the sight left me a little sadder than it normally does. Without going into too much detail, it’s been a difficult summer and I’ve been looking forward to the change of season that brings cooler weather, decorating pumpkins and baking apple pie. There is a kind of peace that ritual brings, even if it’s nothing more than filling the house with the scent of baking apples and cinnamon or a pot of stew.
As I watch my last rose of summer, I’m reminded of the year that’s past, the good and the bad. I see the edges curling inward but it’s still turning its pretty red face toward the sun, still hanging on. When I was a child, I learned to press flowers but I’ve resisted cutting this one. These days, I prefer nature in its own habitat. I celebrate each growing season and this year, I’ll make it a point to notice when the last curled blossom falls. No matter what the calendar says, fall won’t really begin for me until that happens.
People have a history of marking change with ritual. Long ago, when people still practiced the old ways and celebrated Samhain as their new year, they not only recognized the birth of a new season, they acknowledged the end of the old one. There was a ritual where the Oak Lord and Crone that reigned during the old year went down to the underworld to make way for the Holly Lord and Maiden. The end of the growing cycle marked the beginning of a new year.
My rituals don’t have much to do with the Oak Lord and the Crone. They are more likely to involve a bucket of soapy water and the business end of a mop. While I enjoy airing the house and making everything spiffy in the spring, there’s something about deep cleaning when the air is brisk and there’s something delicious, bubbling in the crock-pot or baking in the oven, that signals the beginning of fall. I’ll miss my roses but I’m looking forward to watching the leaves change and seeing whatever costumes the neighbor kids put together this year.
How about you? Do you do anything special to celebrate autumn?
Until next month