A Hallowed Harvest

October 31, 2007

I am going to usurp an idea a friend of ours shared at a harvest party last year. He, (the one who posted the eloquent comment on What is Wine Anyway?), shaped some of his thoughts on the season around the letters for HARVEST and it got me thinking too. So over the past few days, I’ve been pondering the feelings that this time of year arouses in me, and tried to capture them here . . .


HHope. There’s something about harvest that conveys hope to me. It’s the end of a cycle, a time of reaping what was sown in faith, knowing it would grow.

AAbundance. I feel such gratitude during harvest for the abundance that it brings. Some of it is subtle, a smile that creeps up when I smell the sweetness of crushed fruit on the breeze. Some of it is intimate, gathering with close friends to laugh and toast and enjoy the fruits of our (well, their) labors. And some is universal, a feeling that the earth has yielded what it will for this year, and that now is the time for restoration.

RRest. I love how the pace here slows as winter sets in — in the vineyards, in our homes. It’s a time when we’re deepening our roots and gaining nourishment to enable the fruits of the next season to flourish.

VVaried. When I hear people say that California doesn’t have ‘real’ seasons, I always beg to differ (and I grew up in Illinois and Connecticut, so I know what people mean by ‘real’ seasons). No, we don’t get snow (although the Mayacaymas mountains do get dusted every few years, and it is magnificent), but each year I’m riveted by the beauty of the vines in their cloak of colors, and the way the autumn mist adds an otherworldly element in the morning. We most certainly do have seasons here in wine country.


EExuberant. When I think of harvest, I think of laughter. Every year, we help out our friends with harvest in some way, shape or form. I think about laughter floating above the vines as we clip grape clusters row to row. Or the mishaps that weave their way into our collective stories after a day of pressing. And the lighthearted laughter shared around the table (enhanced by silly song lyrics and grapevine ‘crowns’ to be sure).

SSustenance. Sustenance is about more than just fueling your body with what it needs to survive, it’s about being a part of a larger whole that feeds our soul . . . as is harvest. Sharing the bounty with those we love is just as much sustenance as the fruits of harvest itself.

TTrust. I sometimes find it hard watching the vines go dormant, the garden laid bare–both literally and metaphorically. I get impatient for the next season of growth to arrive. But I need to trust–that the buds will come again, that the fruit will follow, and even that there is purpose to this season of starkness.


PS — Seeing as it is Halloween, I thought today would be a good time to mention that we’ll be getting a new look here at Swirling Notions soon. But before we launch the new design, if you have any thoughts—what you wish you’d see here, something you don’t think belongs—I’d love to hear. Thanks!


11 Responses to “A Hallowed Harvest”

  1. Katie Says:

    Pretty pics! I love the vibrant orange and red of the vines this time of year….especially with the sun shining on them…when the sun shines on them, sigh…

  2. lia Says:

    Thanks Katie! I agree . . . it’s just magical.

  3. lia Says:

    Thanks Katie! I agree . . . it’s just magical.

  4. jo Says:

    What a really lovely post, both the words and the spectacular images. And the name Mayacaymas — wow! As for your new look just please don’t go black, I’ll get a migraine when I stop by!

  5. Rosemary in Utah Says:

    Lol, Lia! Between this beautiful sermon of a post
    and the gentle preaching (5 Bits of Advice..) you did last time, I think you’ve nearly got a new religion on your hands!

    I’m sure the design will be worthy of the content–
    I like it that you include those of us not excessively familiar 🙂 with grapes!

  6. Mary Says:

    Lia, what a lovely post. Just what one wants to do this time of year – look back at the busy season and reflect, slow down and muse on what really matters. I LOVE that second photo, with the stripes of burnt red, gold, orange like a harvest quilt, and above them the Mayacamas (I presume!) disappearing into the mist, layer by layer.

  7. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Lia – your friend who wrote eloquently sent me the link to your blog today (I’ve known him since high school) and I had to write to say I’m impressed. The first thing I read was about Harvest. The second was Noe and loved reading those stories. I too appreciate that you include “those of us not excessively familiar with grapes” (and wine), although I have a grape arbor of concords (and drink wine). The harvest colors where I live are quite beautiful – my 6 year old and I were playing just prior to sunset in a park nearby with huge old willows that were so bright yellow it almost hurt to look. I’m going to enjoy this blog – thanks to you and to your eloquent friend. steph

  8. lia Says:

    Jo . . . Absolutely, no black. I promise.

    Rosemary . . . Oh man, did I come on too strong? My friends tell me I can be a bit intense at times . . . I promise, the next post will be light and airy with a bit of humor ;-).

    Mary . . . Thank you! I once heard about how Native Americans view the fall as a time of death in order to seed (as fruit drops) and fertilize (as leaves drop) the ground for new life, recognizing that the latter can’t happen without the former. I’ve often wondered if that’s why autumn brings such a vivid sense of nostalgia–almost mourning–and have since really tried to heed their wisdom and reflect on what I need to be shedding in my own life to make room for new growth in seasons to come. I love the way you acknowledge that concept in your comment!

    Stephanie . . . Well I am so glad Mr. Eloquent sent you here! 🙂 Man, that park scene sounds stunning. Willows are just transcendent in autumn.

  9. Rosemary in Utah Says:

    Lia.. of course you didn’t come on too strong–
    just the right amount of strength, drawn from nature!

  10. foodette Says:

    What a beautiful sentiment, and such gorgeous pictures. Our seasons down here is SoCal aren’t nearly as varied as yours. But, I did get a good dose of autumn on a recent trip to Denver.

  11. lia Says:

    Rosemary . . . Thank you! But still, I promise, today’s post will be light as a giggle from Noe (and that was a hint on the subject ;-))

    Foodette . . . Denver in autumn is beautiful, isn’t it? Everything kind of glows golden in the light of the aspens. My best friend was just out here from Denver this weekend for Noe’s first birthday party (another hint), and we were talking about just that.

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