My fingers pause, turning the leaves up, counting the tomatoes still green.
I spare those plants. As the gray gathers overhead, I weigh the green leaves of the eggplant, its purple blossoms. The still-green leaves of the pepper plant, shorn of its small white blooms by the lateness of the season. The crisscrossing silver wire of the fungi that kept my potted peas from sprouting at all.
Today is the first day of autumn — and I bear the scissors and the bowl. As the first droplets splatter from the gray, I take the peppers, one of the tomatoes, the eggplant, some of the worn and shredded basil to the compost bin, and give a silent thanks as I tip them out of their pots. The cut catnip is gathered, looped and hung in the garage.
A poor harvest this year, yes. But a harvest nonetheless.
When I first became involved with the Henge of Keltria, I struggled with the placement of the Morrigan at Meán Fómhair. Why the Red Woman, the death-bringer, the carrion crow? Why not an earthier lady — Danu, perhaps, the giving furrow?
But harvest is about more than just bounty. It’s about making choices — and wielding the blade that severs. You say, “The days are too short and cold now for the peppers. So I will pluck the last and consign the plant to death.” You know the wheat will grow no more, and wield the sickle. You pluck the winter squash and pull the vines — a death that feeds the future.
It doesn’t happen all at once, of course. The cherry tomatoes have been spared, since some have yet to turn. A few sport yellow blossoms still. The herbs, aside from shearing, are left to their annual death and rebirth. I’ll give the beets another two weeks before I give up on that harvest, too, and pull them — likely to end up using the greens, since I don’t think they have set roots.
To harvest is to choose — and to kill. Death feeds the future: the winter squash in the closet, the saved seeds, the drying herbs. Life requires death to continue.