Our weather is finally changing to fall like temperatures. Everyone is enjoying the break from the summer heat and daytime highs in the 70’s. For me, I am even happier with cooler nights so I can sleep more easily.  This month my thoughts are about harvest time, even though we don’t really live in farm country.

Trail at dusk, with trees on side with fall colors

We live in a somewhat rural area, but it still seems like a city to me. When we lived in other places, I was reminded of the harvest time when I would see cows herded to new fields or trucks and tractors hauling crops from the fields. Here in San Diego, shopping or entertainment doesn’t require driving for hours.  There are farms, hidden in the hills, but they aren’t a part of everyday life for most people.

Living in the city, harvest activities can seem far away although there are reminders of them. The large number of pumpkins in stores and corn or other produce placed the as decoration for Halloween. Even here in Southern California, there are signs of the change of season, with cooler weather and shorter days. Not far from us is a town that is know for apple orchards and many people drive up this time of year to pick apples, or buy apple pies. I have a variety of locally grown apples that I look forward to eating and baking with.

Cottonwood tree with yellow leaves of fall

But when I think of harvest time, when scenes and images come into my head, I picture more  rural areas, where farming is a primary activity and people are closer to nature and the forces that can still affect us. An early frost or snow, too much rain or too little, hot weather at the wrong time, all of these events can affect the harvest. In the city it is easy to forget that humans aren’t always in control and nature can still affect us in many ways.
In olden times, when there was less technology, many people had to depend on their neighbors and the community to help with these challenges. There are stories of neighbors helping each other to survive and thrive in their lives. People would lend a hand with harvests, or chores when weather or accidents got in the way.  There was an understanding that by supporting others, people would receive support when they needed it.  Humans have an interdependence that has helped us to achieve great things in spite of our flaws and our quarreling. Even when a community worked together, there were still losses, of harvests and people, which served as a reminder of why people helped each other.  

I doubt that these communities were idyllic paradises where everyone helped out and made sure that all prospered, not just a few people. I’m sure there were those who took advantage of others, who didn’t work as hard as they should and caused problems in the community just because they could. Yet, we look back at these days, the times when neighbor knew neighbor and pine for simpler times. I have felt that longing for community, that need to belong. Because of this feeling, I am gradually changing my life to build networks with others where I can help out and accept help from others. Sometimes it is harder to accept help, to acknowledge that I can’t do everything on my own. Then I remember how good I can feel when I have helped someone and I realize accepting help can allow others to have that sense of accomplishment too.

Tree at dusk, clouds in background, colored leaves

In looking back at my life, I dislike those times I have been selfish, and more focused on what I can get instead of what I can give. I’m not perfect, there are times where I am annoyed by people and want to walk away from them. However, when I reflect on my idea of community and service, I realize that I will have a poorer life if I back away from these groups.

I hope that everyone is continuing to enjoy their fall, the approach of harvest and the recognition of the bounty we have. May everyone be blessed with plenty and have opportunities to share with others who are not as fortunate.

Pictures by J.T. Harpster