Harvest season is a whirlwind of activity that completes our seasons of outside-centered work and play and brings us back indoors. It is a time to reconnect, to prepare the home for its shining role as protector, gatherer, and familiar comfort.
It is a natural ebb and flow of seasons. A going out and a coming in. A sending out and a welcome return.
There are signs of outside scattered within my walls. Muddy footprints cling to the floor near the back door; smiling pink cheeked faces sticky with the juice from freshly picked apples line the sides of our wood table creating leaf rubbings and acorn babies; and each morning I wonder if today will be the day to bring the first cut logs inside to light and warm our home.
I have never been much for spring cleaning. I always have grand intentions, fling open the windows, and scatter a few spring blossoms in jars on windowsills hoping for the motivation to clean every corner and cranny. Winter cleaning happens each year, though, as we prepare for a window of time when our world will revolve inside four walls packed full of the all the warming smells and goodness that winter brings.
The children and I look forward to bringing up the boxes of wool throws and flannel sheets. The copper kettle gets a cleaning and shines on top of the stove while the earthen mugs are carefully unwrapped and hung as the lighter, vintage teacups get packed in tissue nests. The kitchen floor gets a thorough scrubbing to remove all traces of the dirt caked shoes that traveled in and out with the season’s bounty for canning, drying and freezing. The very act of preserving and filling shelves for winter sets the tone- a bringing in, a setting up.
As the darkness invades sooner each evening, blankets are pulled out for fort building. Even the children carry the urge to draw closer, to hibernate in small spaces and read for hours on end. My favorite read aloud novels come out in the winter. Some so well loved, the covers are missing, the pages yellowed and musty, with familiar lines recited in unity.
It is fitting that many of the year’s traditions occur during this time of closeness. They root us to our past, present and future. We slow down; we nurse illness; we snuggle; we bake; we knit; we create. Most importantly we reclaim what is really important. We reconnect with loved ones who come from far and near to gather. We enjoy just being together. We take pleasure in simple domestic tasks that happen daily but are rarely slowed down enough to do mindfully. We reclaim what it means to be home.