Late Summer-The Fifth Season
Next to early spring, late summer is my favorite season. The colors are golden, tomatoes are warm and ripe and the summer corn is yellow and sweet. The fragrance of summer wildflowers still permeate the air. The nights in Vermont are cool for sleeping, but the days can be quite warm. This season is short, only a few weeks long, but it is a significant time of year. Yellow school buses are on the roads and people are returning to work after vacations. Life is returning to an ordered routine. We are glad to have a little structure back into our lives. We may experience a weather phenomenon called indian summer. This usually occurs after one killing frost, the day will be warm and hazy with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s. Yellow jackets are still flying around going after the sweetness of rotten apples that fell from the trees. Lest we forget, this is also the time that cluster flies and lady bugs magically appear from nowhere. I looked up the history of the term “indian summer”. Early New England settlers faced indian attacks throughout the summer and the attacks usually abated when the weather turned cool. Indian summer was a time when, after the attacks ceased , they began again for the few weeks of warmer weather.
The late summer is a time of transition from the yang and the outwardness of summer toward the inward introspection of the yin. This time of year is associated with the earth element in Chinese medicine. The earth is our home, our womb and our tomb. Centering ourselves is important during this time of transition. Elton Haas MD, in his book “Staying Healthy with the Seasons”, uses the analogy of a three dimensional cross to explain centering. The vertical line connects the brain to the body, a horizontal line connects right brain to the left brain, making sure that the left brain is aware of the right brain and the front to back tran- sectional line represents our connection as human beings to nature. The convergence of these lines represents centering. Centering is important tp good body health. If your left and right brain are balanced, exercising both logic and intuition, you will have better mental health. When your mind and body are connected, through meditation and good food, you are more likely to fight off disease. If your connection to nature is strong, you are more likely to understand good health.
Many of us have lost the ability to access our right brain because everything is done for us and the right brain rarely gets exercise. It is important to exercise your intuition and creativity to strengthen your right brain.
The autumnal equinox occurs September 22 this year and is the official beginning of fall. At this time the earth is not tilted either toward or away from the sun. In every part of the world, the length of the day is the same.
During this transition time, our diets still include some of our summer harvest such as berries grapes and tomatoes. We now need to include things that will build the body and nourish the gut. We will add dairy, fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchee during this season and later add meat.
After the autumnal equinox the coming of shorter days becomes more obvious and we prepare ourselves for the strongest yin season, winter.