Autumn is Gathering Season
Autumn is gathering season. Gathering of the harvest: pick tomatos, pears, apples, pumpkins, corn; cut and bundle sheaves of grain; pick grapes and gather a group to stomp them into a rich juice. Then bring it all home. Now celebrate with a gathering of the entire community to partake of the harvest, to sing and dance and play.
That was the past. Or was it? Today, we still harvest, there are still gatherings for grape stomping, albeit of a more commercial nature. And there are still harvest festivals around the world. Here, in North America, we still celebrate Thanksgiving. And it has remained the most family-oriented holiday, almost ignored by commercial interests, except for the many turkeys and the prominently placed cans of pumpkin in the grocery stores. For those who have no family or no food, there are community turkey dinners all over. A time for all to gather together and to give thanks for what they have. Not so much for the harvest, which, due to modern technology, is mostly year round now, but for the presence of family and friends. A time of togetherness.
So this year, after losing my last parent and after watching the osprey raise their young, I have thought a lot about family. What is a family? How do people and animals group together and why? My poems reflect these musings. And I end with an Irish tune: Harvest Home. For this month is all about harvest, home and family.
May you enjoy a gathering of people who matter to you and to whom you matter. And may you feel thankful for all that you enjoy, forgetting for a moment that which you do not appreciate.
Birds of a feather flock together.
While acquaintances stray
And friends wander away,
The family is forever.
The osprey migrate on their own,
Called to a Southern home,
But in Spring come back through
Find their mate and begin anew.
Turkeys flock together, Tom and hen,
Mate, break apart and then
The hen lays, chicks hatch and grow
Into a new family, ebb and flow.
One by one, we too left our home,
Seeking lives of our own,
But now we come together,
For families are forever.
You bore us,
Fed us, raised us
Cleaned, ironed, sewed
Read to us, gave us gifts,
Played the piano and we sang.
Cooked meals for us to eat
Around the table together.
And so now, with you gone,
We still come together
For you made of us
Thanks to the ease of modern travel, we can readily cultivate our continental and global contacts, but human intimacy has only become rarer and separateness more acute.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technological communication, isolation is breeched as never before, yet we find ourselves disconnected and alone as never before.
What promised greater togetherness has paradoxically fostered greater aloneness! We seem not to fear aloneness enough to cultivate togetherness, and distance seems to be less threatening than intimacy.
The American Family
Life in America was once a family continuum of blood, place, religion and tradition. A meaningful cohesive whole! Today, American life is largely a continuum of nomadic individuals little conscious of lineage, indifferent to belief and oblivious of the past. A whole has lost its wholeness.
The Family Today
Radical individualism, work, consumerism and financial pressures have shriveled family life to an alarming degree. Husband and wife have become progressively more self-centered, ever more consumed by their jobs, leisurely family time has become a thing of the past, and too many children are being left too early to their own devices. What does this hold in store for society at large? Only time will tell!
The Final Chapter
America's growing number of assisted-living/nursing homes are institutions no less depressing than its many somber funeral parlors. The former warehouse the infirm and dying elderly and the latter dispose of the dead. A doleful institutionalized finale!
The close and end of life might better be in familiar surroundings and with family and friends. Such would be more personal, more comfortable and more humane, and not something to be dreaded.
Pauses for Thought
Good deeds spread good seeds.
To assist another is to aid a sister or a brother.
Kindness is empathy, sympathy and humanity.
A duck waddles and quacks; it does not strut and crow.
Comfort and solace are found in togetherness.
Home is where I have my nest, my cave and my little family.