by Monica O’Malley-Tavares.

Photo: Monica O’Malley-Tavares

It’s early on a Saturday and I am anxious to get outside. Garden boots pulled on. Screen door resounding in the distance. My feet carry me with determination through heavy morning dew. Shadows from an autumn sun crawl long and insistently from the stone walls bordering our farmhouse. They slide across the field, over the gardens and then disappear into the woods. The catbird, my morning companion for the past several months, perches on the edge of the bramble, a late September raspberry tucked safely in her beak. The foggy air seems to swirl through my brain and slides a chill across my still-tanned arms. I feel it. Changes are coming.

I move toward the gardens with a sense of urgency, an innate desire to connect once more with this land that asks for nothing in return. Seeds scattered from faded blossoms intersperse with the lingering perfume of dropped rose petals and last-minute herbs. Monarchs patiently gather nectar, nourishing their bodies for what will be a long journey. My fingers slide through the well-worked soil, an assuring nod absently confirming its importance, humbly acknowledging the land that has provided our family with an endless supply of refrigerator pickles and tomato pie…with many zucchini and more green beans than one little pug could possibly eat. A network of nearly lifeless vines gives way to the smooth orange skin of Halloween pumpkins, validating my perception that the shift in seasons has indeed arrived.

I hold an unspoken obligation here, in this place where field and garden and sky seem to merge together so effortlessly, where autumn winds float across crimson grasses, and wild turkeys gobble at the edge of the woods. A wordless thank you, a pact of service and protection to this land that provides homes for deer and foxes and hawks…where maple and oak and beech flourish, where evergreen boughs weigh heavy with cones in autumn and snows in winter, where change is a welcome and necessary constant.

The walk back to the farmhouse is slow and purposeful, a time of quiet contemplation and reflection. My pockets are stuffed with dried seed heads and sprigs of rosemary and oregano, seasonal trophies coming home for safe keeping. The maples lining my path are donned with just a kiss of jewel-toned leaves. They cleverly tug on my heartstrings, as autumn becomes a welcome reality.

Monica O’Malley-Tavares lives in coastal Massachusetts where open farmland and salty sea merge into one. You can find her growing flowers, writing, taking photos, and teaching middle school.