Welcoming Fall at The Forest

September 26, 2022
sound bowl with floral arrangement at green burial

Falling In

Harvest blessings to you! This excerpt from Parker J. Palmer’s The Paradox of Fall captures my feelings around this season.

Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death. Faced with this inevitable winter, what does nature do in autumn? She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring—and she scatters them with amazing abandon. 

Autumn constantly reminds me that my daily dyings are necessary precursors to new life. If I try to “make” a life that defies the diminishments of autumn, the life I end up with will be artificial, at best, and utterly colorless as well. But when I yield to the endless interplay of living and dying, dying and living, the life I am given will be real and colorful, fruitful and whole.


As we support families in laying their loved to rest, we also look ahead to how we will honor these lives by celebrating and caring for the land. Conservation efforts here include thinning the forest and limbing up trees to improve the overall health of the forest ecosystem. The debris is either chipped or piled and burned in the winter and early spring. This is what perpetual care looks like in this burial ground.

This seasonal transition initiates preparation for the cold months to come, and the inevitable growth after the cold. Come up and visit to experience the natural world preparing! Enjoy a self-guided visit to Willow-Witt Ranch any day of the week between 11am and 5pm. Remember to follow directions on the website and contributions to The Crest are always welcome from visitors.

Please join us for the next seasonal shift. Honoring the earth and welcoming our community is important to us. Mark your calendars for the Winter Solstice Celebration on Saturday, December 17, 2022. We will offer a guided tour at noon. The celebration begins at 1:15pm. BYO warm drinks to enjoy by the fire.

With care,
Mary Ann Perry, Sexton

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Seasonal Shifts
and Climate Observations

Willow-Witt Ranch meadow in fall

‘Be glad for summer is dead and the sky turns over to darkness, good storms, few guests, glad rivers.’
–Robinson Jeffers
 
Ahhhh…Fall, my favorite season of the year.  By the end of summer, with its amazing bright light, heat, and high energy, the crickets’ song is a harbinger of quiet and cool, rains, frosts, and leaves glowing gold and yellow, then falling to reveal the growing buds beneath each leaf.  How hopeful!  They are ready for the winter rest and quiet, followed by the cool awakening of spring, then another riotous summer.  I sense in fall the fruition of the year.  In the cool mornings and evenings, I wonder at the fecundity of the gardens and forests, and the hope of spring’s renewal…but only after a well-deserved rest.

We sleep longer in the fall and retire to read earlier.  I appreciate animals building nests to protect them during winter’s storms…even though they prefer the campground linens to lichens for nest-building.  We can live with their ‘intrusions’ and put away the linens.  We watch green grass sprouting beneath tall, dried stalks; the geese see it, too, and rush to eat the fresh new growth.

I sense a collective sigh from the forests and wetlands…. made it through another hot and dry summer.  As our world warms in response to human-caused damages, I fear that summers may have become the ‘dangerous season;’ early people readied for winter as the ‘hunger season,’ but they knew a balance we no longer share.

Fall is an important time for us to recommit to the work of protecting and preserving the living organisms by whose grace we survive, and to seek out new ways to help assure the earth’s collective survival.  Natural burial is one of the important steps I’ll make toward that end in my life.
 
Suzanne

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Species Spotlight

Western Pond Turtle closeup

Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata)

Wetland restoration matters, and we have seen tangible results here at Willow-Witt Ranch. As part of a restorative land management plan, the ranch partnered with the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to install ~ 4 miles of fences to protect 76 acres of wetland from all grazing animals. In partnership with Oregon State University Extensive Service and local elementary school students, native willows were planted along the eroded gullies to slow the flow of water, hold soil in place, and shade the streams.

A pond, first developed in the 1970s, was redeveloped in the 1990s as water storage for fire suppression efforts. The subalpine meadows below have filled in with cat tails and sedges, rushes, and grasses, and the water table has risen. The threatened western pond turtle found the continuous flow of fresh water and followed it to this haven on the valley’s floor. They seem to be thriving here; we have counted more than 100! We are proud and honored to be stewards of the highest-known breeding location of this hardy creature.

A pond, first developed in the 1970s, was redeveloped in the 1990s as water storage for fire suppression efforts. The subalpine meadows below have filled in with cattails, sedges, rushes and grasses, and the water table has risen. The threatened western pond turtle found the continuous flow of fresh water and followed it to this haven on the valley’s floor. They seem to be thriving here; we have counted more than 100! We are proud and honored to be stewards of the highest-known breeding location of this hardy creature.


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The Forest Conservation Burial Ground
658 Shale City Road
Ashland, OR 97520
(541) 625-9697
info@theforestconservationburial.org

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