A Reflection On Autumn 

As Halloween approaches, autumn is upon us in all its colourful glory, and winter looms. Autumn has featured heavily in my meditations. I would like to share some themes with you. 

The Japanese love walking out in the woods at this time of year, and even have a word for it- momijigari. Celebrate Japan’s love of the changing seasons by enjoying autumn in all its glory, from leaves crunching underfoot to trees ablaze in fiery colours, and the rich smell in the countryside near you.  

Momijigari is an ancient Japanese tradition that translates to ‘maple leaf hunting’ — a seasonal appreciation of autumn’s breath-taking hues, As the woods come alive with brilliant reds, yellows, and golds, it’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy nature. Write down all the different colours you see, invent names where the colours defy ordinary description. 

The poet Mary Oliver wrote: 

In the deep fall 

don’t you imagine the leaves think how 

comfortable it will be to touch 

the earth instead of the 

nothingness of air and the endless 

freshets of wind? 

I love that idea of ‘Letting go’ for the leaves, but with a sense of comfort, and how they want to rest on the soft earth.  Of trees welcoming birds into their mossy caves, and the firewood longing to be aflame. This feeling of the cosiness of the season, and that it’s all right for these changes to occur, and not a bad thing. Imagine what this feels like for the leaves, the trees, or the logs for the fire. What would it be like to be the leaf, tree, or log? The transition, the movement, the decay, the relief after a hard year. 

What do we want to ‘let go of’ in our own lives? From tiny niggles to more profound deep-rooted habits and problems. Maybe this Autumn these things want us to let go of them, and they too can rest on the comfort of the earth. 

I am also fascinated by the book ‘Entangled Life’ by Plant Scientist Merlin Sheldrake detailing how beneath every wood or forest, there is an underground network connecting roots & fungi to each other in highly complex arrangements.  

Put simply the fungi send out gossamer-fine tubes into the soil & weave them into plant roots at a cellular level. Roots and fungi combine – called a mycorrhiza: the Greek words for fungus (mykós) and root (riza). Individual plants are joined to each other by this ‘Wood Wide Web’ The fungi siphon off food from the trees, taking carbon-rich sugars from the tree’s photosynthesis. The trees get nutrients like phosphorus & nitrogen that the fungi have acquired from the soil, using enzymes that the trees do not possess. A forest is really a single superorganism, rather than lots of separate trees. To describe his research, Merlin says ‘I work on the social networks of plants’, like Facebook for trees. 

Why not think about all the different people you’re connected to, family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues. Our own superorganism. Practical things, like getting shopping, helping with the garden or the superpower of listening, giving that person space, or seeing the best in them, believing in them, sharing tea, cake & giggles with them? What gifts have you exchanged with your human connections? Think of this as your ‘Fungus gratitude list’!  

I recall lines from a beautiful Rumi poem, ‘The Guest House.’ 

This being human is a guest house. 

Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 

Welcome and entertain them all, 

because each has been sent 

as a guide from beyond. 

Who is in our wood wide web? Perhaps you should write out a list and reflect upon what you give them, and they give you. 

And perhaps your walk in the woods will now be an even more enriching experience after reading this? I hope so.

Jane’s Website

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