Preparing for a fallow time
Hunker Down. That’s what we do to prepare for winter. When I’m in touch with the turning-in of winter, my focus changes. Harvest of the growing season fills my cupboard with squash, potatoes, onions, and the last batch of chard. The empty stalks of my asters, mums, and peony greens get cut. I break up the stems and place them around the plant’s home in the dirt, following what I read by Ruth Stout. The plants die and disappear from view, shutting me out. The body of the earth closes the doors, turns out the light, hops into bed and pulls up the covers.
What we call a fallow time though, is just a shift in focus. We, who live on the outer crust, see no activity in the earth’s body. During a Midwest slumber of winter, however, crucial and fundamental processes take place out of our sight. Behind the door of the topsoil and under the cover of mulch, the roots take water and nutrients deep to begin the winter season’s releasing of what they stored during the growing season.
When we humans turn inside, myriad processes happen in our bodies. Our bodies’ winter takes place every 24 hours. During our sleep season, in our bodies, there is this breaking down and assimilation of nutrients and fluids; this release and bundling of waste products; this building and repairing of tissue, bone, and blood.
Even our brains during sleep are anything but inactive, however dormant our actions. The brain’s memory, imagination, and universal consciousness break down daily events into electrical charges, and some synaptic chemical processes. If we’re willing to let go, those processes release both muscular and psychological tensions into that bundling of waste products. When do you think your body performs all these intricate functions—while you’re multi-tasking?
How do you prepare your body for sleep? How do you prepare your brain for sleep? Brush your teeth, wash your face, meditate on the day’s events? You close the door, turn out the light, hop into bed and pull up the covers. Are you ready to move your focus from the world outside of you to your insides? During your daily fallow season, are you ready to let it all go?
It’s a way of coming home, really. Focusing inside the doors and walls from where we will bloom with our work, our friends, and the world outside.
While we help our yards hunker down for the winter, we turn inside our houses where it’s warm. Out comes the knitting, the loom, and the baking pans. Are you willing to savor the inside? Gather yourself together inside for now. Go home now. Until it is time for spring.