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  • Mj Pettengill

Here in the Northern Dusk


Late Season Monarch, Mj Pettengill
Late Season Monarch, Mj Pettengill

Marya of the Wood Here in the northern dusk, when the dimming days of November arrive, we begin to long for the light. Cherish the moments when the bright sun pours over frost-covered ridges, lingering beneath the hollow of the hill. Remember to close your eyes as it washes over you. Let it in.

Flowers—mere remnants of summer's boastful days—linger, offering false hope for those seeking it. Once green and abundant with crops, the fields quietly turn brown beneath a blanket of red and yellow leaves. The time has come to shelter deep within the earthen womb of Our Mother. Many animals will depart to warmer lands while others prepare for slumber. Winter birds arrive, announcing their charm in counterpoint while dancing amongst the seed plants that rattle in the wind. Continuing to fade, remnants of the night chorus diminish with the waning sun; each night is quieter than the night before until one lone cricket carries the song. Cloaked in darkness, I hear, hope, and cheer for the last cricket to sing. I am its witness.


Upon greeting the first night of silence, I chase away melancholia and give thanks for the last song and commitment to seeing it through. I humbly accept that summer is long gone, and autumn follows close behind. Our Mother waits patiently, tucked calmly into the four corners of Father Sky with her white wand, ready to awaken winter when the time is right. We can pick the date, celebrate, and embrace each season, but only She knows when it truly arrives. Watch the ravens pick clean what is left behind, keeping clear the ghosts of our gardens. Hear their wisdom, lost in time, as they remind us to ponder lessons learned during the passing season. Where is the knowledge? After sowing our hopes and dreams, what is the soul's harvest? When you know, thank them. Each day, I watch the monarchs tightly folded within their silken wraps. I offer a silent prayer for the ones that didn't emerge, and I bid farewell to those that made it and fluttered about in gratitude before their departure.


This morning, my son found a lingering monarch struggling amongst the mugwort. As sad as I am that it is quite late and her chances of survival are low, I will leave her to Our Mother. We placed her on one of the last flowering phlox, where she has been all day. May the nectar sustain her—a gift I do not wholly comprehend.


Retire and give thanks to the golden, hand-woven basket filled many times over with flowers, fruits, roots, and vegetables, carrying the promise of yield reaped within your being. You have manifested all labors and efforts of the passing season. Sit easy, rest, and breathe deeply. It is time for soups, stews, and merries crafted from the fruits of our labor when we basked in full sun, inhabited the rain, and celebrated ripeness together. Wood is stacked in rows by the hearth for winter fires, illuminating our nights, warming the kettle, and protecting us from cold and discomfort. As the wind strips the last leaves from their branches and sleep falls gently upon the land, gather your loved ones and continue your sacred journey into the spiral of birth, death, and rebirth.