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To Reconceive What Harvest Means

If one goes by the colonial calendar, it’s technically summer for almost three hours yet. I had thought of featuring a work that has the word for that season in its name, although it’s equally well-suited to colder times of year.

In the end, though, I decided that that would be better reserved for a different post, focusing this day on the way the autumn sun lights up the fading green of grass and leaf, the way the last of the green stretches out in all directions like one last end-of-summer expression of Mother Earth’s love for her children before she turns her attention to the seasons of her own renewal.

But I chose this piece for today for another reason, too. Its description speaks of what most people likely regard as the province of summer, and perhaps late spring before it: of pollination, of growth, of abundance. And all that is of course true, but it misses deeper truths of climate and season, growth and life itself. We know here, perhaps better than most, that the truest time of renewal and rebirth is winter, and this afternoon’s equinox reminds us in the starkest of terms that its arrival is not only near but inevitable.

Today is, in fact, the perfect autumn day in a place where fall has already been in residence a while: flawlessly clear blue skies; a gilding green now fading fast; an edge to the air, blade-sharp; and that magical melding of gold and silver light. It’s a day to revel in its beauty and the comfort of its temperatures, and to give thanks for these great and valuable gifts while the earth permits us to have them.

And it reminds us, in these days of catastrophic climate change and disaster-ridden drought, that to be grateful for all that we are granted will require us to re-evaluate what it is that keeps us alive now, to reconsider what it means to thrive, to reconceive what harvest means.

That last is especially difficult given that it feels as though we have no harvest; after all, the caprice of weather and climate kept us from planting again this year. No corn, no beans, no squash; no pumpkins or greens; not medicine herbs, and precious few wildflowers. But it’s worse than that: The trees are dying, and the red willows, too.

How do we find abundance in a world seemingly withering around us, reconnect ourselves with the love of the Earth and the spirits when all around us is apparently irrevocably altered now?

Today’s featured work reorients us to the Earth’s essential truths, grounding us once more in their love, and their light. From its description in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

From the Heart of the Earth Necklace

From the heart of the earth our whole world grows. Wings pays tribute to this evolutionary process with this necklace, a cross that is not a cross, but the embodiment of elemental forces and nurturing spirits. The pendant’s form is a very old design, one that circumvented colonial insistence on Christianity by appearing to adopt its four-spoked shape — and then adding an extra bar and a curving end to produce the form of a much older spirit: that of Dragonfly, a pollinator, a messenger, a symbol of romantic love and life’s abundance. Here, Wings has honored another old adaptation of the style, turning the curved tail at the base of the lowest spoke into a stylized heart. Above the heart, the pendant extends upward and outward to the Four Sacred Directions, each of the remaining five spokes stamped with a single thunderhead symbol pointing inward toward the center, a sign of the rain that keeps our Earth herself alive. Above the top spoke, the hand-made bail flowers into a lush green peridot; at the base in the center of the heart, the place of emergence, two tiny hand-stamped flowers are wedded into the form of a butterfly, a small spirit rising from its own place of emergence to continue the processes of pollination and prosperity. The cross is made of solid fourteen-gauge silver, and hangs 2-5/8″, the bail 3/4″ (the pendant is 3-3/8″ in total length; 1-1/8″ across at the widest point); the stone is 3/8″ long; the pendant hangs from an 18″ sterling silver snake chain (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; peridot
$1,150 + shipping, handling, and insurance

One would think that by now the small spirits of summer that animate this piece, Dragonfly and Butterfly, would already be long absent. But the truth is that at least one giant dragonfly was still here at least as of yesterday, one giant butterfly and a large moth, too. They remind us that, like most of our natural world, they are not bound by arbitrary lines of season or calendar, but instead go where they are meant to be when the Earth itself tells them it’s time.

Their presence, too, is a gift.

There may be no final cut of hay in the fields (there was never a first this year); no giant stalks of corn, kernels the colors of jewels; no pinto beans or chiles or bright orange pumpkins to match the harvest moon. But for the moment, we have blue skies and clear air, an edge to the wind that renders it at once gentle and sharp, bright sunlight that blends gold and silver into one shimmering radiant strand.

And the season of rebirth is around the corner.

A 1,200-year drought and deadly aridification compel us to rethink everything we thought we knew, to take nothing for granted, to reconceive what harvest means and find the abundance, and the gratitude, that attend it. Right now, the promise of winter, the possibility of snow, the hope of the very medicine of renewal and rebirth from the heart of Mother Earth?

That is harvest enough.

~ Aji








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