Thick Fog Morning

It’s the last day of August. One of those thick fog mornings. It feels like the lull at high tide, just before the ocean pulls back on itself. A stretched breath. A slow turn at the arc of the seasons.

Actually, we are past that arc. The descent into autumn has begun. The wild cherries have already dropped their leaves, and the buckeyes are doing the same. Going to bed early, like I sometimes do.

Last night a thunderstorm raged through, flashes of lightning that were close enough to startle me from sleep and leave me wondering what death by lightning strike would be like. I also wondered about all the katydids. How do they manage such sky violence? Do they just hush and hang on to their little branches and stems? Such is the way my sleeping mind works.

I woke in the storm and shut our bedroom door that was open to the cool night air. Rain had soaked the floor and I blindly grabbed a towel and mopped it up with my feet. I shut the door on the storm and went back to sleep. Soon enough that door will shut out the cold instead of the rain. The thunderstorms will migrate south, with the warblers and hummingbirds, and the north winds will return, first howling on the ridges, then sweeping down into the valleys.

Usually by this time of the year I am ready for fall. For the air to turn crisp. For the architecture of the forest to reveal itself once again. For the tobacco-sweet smell of the earth on our wooded paths.

But on this morning, at least, I am not ready. The harvest is too slim, in my mind. The crickets whir outside my window and I am not ready. The trees stash away the last of light’s sweetness and I am not ready.

What would it have meant, to my ancestors, if the harvest was too slim? A leanness, an edge of fear. But also, I think, they would lean on each other. That is how we survived. Through connection. Through sharing what sweetness we may have stashed in our roots, like the trees do.

Everything about this year, about this season, about a garden that did not grow enough, or a nation unprepared and unravelling, points to a lean winter. Hard times. And in the storm of it, I think about the trees and wonder, Where is our mycorrhizal network? The underworld web of cached light and story? The web that will feed us when our spirits are broken?

And just in the asking, I know that it is there. Some sort of human mycorrhizal network. It’s not a thing for the microscopes. It defies logic and understanding. But deep in my bones, I feel the wisdom of my ancestors approaching a hard season. I feel the stories tucked away in our roots. The hands that can hold us, even if they can’t touch. I lean into it, and it does not break.

3 thoughts on “Thick Fog Morning”

  1. Thank You so much Stephanie! It is so nice to read your stories and see your artwork again. I had missed your emails this year. This is such a beautiful story. It was a lean harvest. I’m glad to have harvested as much as we did but the rains of midsummer and intense heat our garden and hearts just balked “no more”. We are learning new/old lessons in self sustainability. I grew up in an rural agrarian small town. There were church suppers and grange suppers everyone had someone in their extended family who still farmed (the mycorrhizal network) no one was ever hungry that I knew of.The ponds were full of fish, deer were everywhere and the orchards full of apples! I think there are alot of us envisioning a new story!
    This is a nourishing web to have found…

  2. Stephanie Thomas Berry

    Thank you, Myra! I think true self-sustainability is really only possible through community-sustainability! Let’s hold that vision–a new version of a very old story indeed. 🙂

  3. Yes: Indeed! i had to reread this “Thick Fog Morning” it paints beautiful images in my mind. Hmmm when the cold air of fall hits the warm earth = Fog! I am interacting with newsletters, watching videos, listening to podcasts; our new way of reaching out and being heard!. We have learned with purpose just how much we are all longing for community during this time of social distancing and what has felt like isolation. I will keep leaning in and visioning too!

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