Late Summer, The Secret Season
Think back to how you felt as Spring gave way to Sultry Summer. We were excited by the salt air and warming water, the sand between our toes, and the late evenings that stretched out like a satisfied cat in a pool of light. Schedules were abandoned and children found their wildness. Students migrated and parents panicked to find affordable Summer camps. Summer was fun, full of playful wave after wave of change. But now we are in the Secret Season known as ‘Late Summer’. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this time of year is associated with a completely different element than summer. We have transitioned from Fire to Earth. Technically, late summer runs from the second half of August till the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd. It’s generally a short season, but in Charleston, you know the “Indian Summer” extends well into October.
The consensus among my students is that they are hot, damp, anxious, and tired at the moment. They seem surprised by this. It makes sense. When School starts back we think of Fall, that association creates anticipation for a shift that hasn’t happened yet. We are in a moment of pause.
The quality of this time is a heavy fullness. If we can give in to that earth pull we make room for rest and quiet before the Fall appears with its rhythm of preparation and readiness for Winter. Fall has a bustle that is busy but also serious. Winter means death to any who aren’t prepared (from a hunter gatherer standpoint).
The Spleen/Stomach meridians are associated with this season so it is a great time to consider your diet. The hot dogs and beer may have taken their toll. Put down the meat stick (or the veggie dog, because those aren’t great either) and find what is growing now. Eat that. Lay off the processed carbs and let the Rose craze pass. Oh, you only ever drink green smoothies made of self grown produce anyways? Then stop reading because you’re obviously ahead of the game. But for the rest of us who love health but also indulge and commiserate with friends and family through culturally celebrated crappy diets, now is a time to reset. Of course, we will talk again as the Holidays approach.
“When Spleen chi is in balance, our cycles are in harmony. This allows all aspects of our life to be absorbed for psychosomatic nourishment . We feel earthy, sensual, full. When Spleen chi is out of balance, the whole body-mind will not receive enough usable energy, causing lethargy, weakness, or dullness.” Sarah Powers
I understand the frantic pull of the season around the corner. When we are out of balance now, we feel anxious instead of easeful, worry takes root. But the earth invites us to pause, take in nourishment, and give a moment of being to our drive of doing.
You know what’s funny? Every season I find a way to spin the forecast and prescribe naps. I’ll do it again. Take naps. Little ones. Go ahead….and after that nap, eat well and savor the fullness of Late Summer.
A soft veil dims the tender skies,
The bronzing tokens of the fall;
A calmness broods upon the hills,
And summer’s parting dream distills
A charm of silence over all.