Rules of Thumb, 30x30, and the Laws of Nature

Spring Landscape (Rain), A. Krehbiel My mother had a commonplace book in which she recorded, by hand, in beautiful cursive, proverbs, sayings, and quotes that struck her as interesting, thought provoking, or wise. I also love sayings, and quotes, and mantras, but mostly I’ve collected rules of thumb, those short pithy statements that condense ways of dealing with life on earth in the same way that proverbs give advice on how to behave in prudent, trouble-avoiding ways.  Rules of thumb exist for every field of human endeavor. There are the general ones, such as the 80% rule, or Pareto Principle, that gets applied in sometimes surprising ways—"eighty percent of every thing is trash,” someone will say, or another will say that “80% of your output comes from 20% of your efforts,” for example. The 80/20 ratio is useful in all sorts of contexts. For example, in a perennial garden, the general rule (backed up by scientific evidence) is that about 75-80% of the plants should be native (lo

Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Saints/Souls Days

What a lot of names there are for this time between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. It is the time in the northern hemisphere when we gather in the harvest, say goodby to growth and prepare for winter's rest, the time when the barriers between the worlds of the living and dead become momentarily thinner, and we remember friends and relatives no longer with us. It is a time of bittersweet celebration, as the days grow shorter and colder before the great turn back towards the light.

Agriculturally and for gardeners, the old year closes when the harvest is gathered in, and for the old Celts and neopagans, the new year begins. My instincts have always gone with the idea that spring is the time of new beginnings, as I wrote in Sandhill Cranes and Spring Resolutions. Each of these holidays are like buoys in time's flood, not really a beginning or end, but a marker of beginnings and endings that have no real fixed points, that blend, that submerge and emerge ceaselessly as the tides. So we pick days for remembrance, to mark and celebrate the turn of the seasons, the progress of our lives.

Comments

Diana Studer said…
For us the year turns when the rain comes, and the garden has survived the summer.
megan said…
Love samhein, and loved your post!

Thanks,
Megan
Hi EE, So you must be glad when that happens. Do you have a rainy season, with constant rains?


Thanks, Megan
margaretart said…
Love your "buoys in time's river" image. What a charming little essay on the season.