School is back in session. My friends up north have irksome Facebook posts about the crisp weather while it's still over a hundred degrees here in Texas and my sky is full of pale ecru smoke from the fires nearby. Fall comes in name only here, but I have faith. I am reminded of a line from a poem written by someone I used to know. It's about God and begs, "Come with Your suddenly, and take me away." It is dust bowl dry here. The earth has cracks so deep and wide we have to warn children away from them. We have learned in the last week that pine trees, parched yet rich with sap, literally explode when the fire burns around them. May the gods have mercy on us.
The animals in the fields are dying. They are shipping the cows and horses up north, losing future generations of livestock and livelihoods. The remaining cows huddle together under scrubby short mesquite trees, trying to find shade. The hay stubble they eat has been burnt by the sun past being yellow and brittle to being a warm grey and powdery. This should be our late summer planting season. Fields should be full of fresh, green grass and knee-high cotton. I was going to plant ornamental gourds to grow and dry for next fall's wedding decorations, but it is too hot and the restricted water allotment must be used to water the foundation to keep the house from cracking worse than it has already. The earth has pulled back from the house by several inches and half of the doors can't shut right. Still, I have faith.
Because I believe that fall will come, that it will bring the rains and the healing both the land and I ache for, I built it an altar. The stag, for the God of the Forest, whom I love so dearly; He that I hunt with, that I run with in visions, whose mantle I wear while setting things right - he crowns the thing because there is none other worthy of it. For Him, a bounty of beautiful gourds and carved acorns. Incense wreathed in grape vines. Hand-blown glass hurricanes with candles. A hand-woven cloth with intricately knotted fringe made by Indians in Mexico. There is sacred cornbread for Grandmother, baked in the spirit flame vessel.
It's hard here and now. Trying. Things seem to move with glacial speed, and hopes with good omens keep ending in disappointment. My soul aches for the imagery of harvest and the refreshing transition out of summer. Only what is there to harvest? When your magic work is around the wheel of the year, leading toward a season of harvest and the land is dead and scorched, what does that forecast for one's spiritual harvest? It scares me, but still, I have faith. Perhaps I should scatter mustard seeds over the altar...