From tiny acorns: seed-gathering season
Yesterday (September 23rd) was the Autumn equinox, the hinge between summer and autumn and the official start of seed-gathering season. This is something we participate in wholeheartedly in our household, albeit something we have actually been doing for a month already. Our seed collection trays are full of sycamore pods, acorns, conkers, pine cones, poppy heads and sunflower seeds we’ve collected over the past few weeks. The kids and I use them in art projects and musical instruments, as well as keeping some to plant next year.
But equally important as the gathering of the seeds themselves is the way in which this connects us to the cycle of the seasons. Talking to my children about how seeds work, which ones rely on the birds or animals to disperse them or the wind to carry them, how their shape or form varies accordingly for practical or aesthetic reasons, what will happen to them between now and the first new shoots sprouting from them next spring – it all helps me to slow down, to take a step back and remember my place in nature. Taking the time out to explain it to the kids forces me to take that time to think and ground myself. And I love that.
We will keep these seeds on our nature table throughout autumn, excepting the ones we decide to eat or save to plant next year (sunflowers and poppies in both cases!) Crucially, these are also the seeds we saved last autumn, so the children have now grown their own seed harvest from scratch and participated in the full cycle. You can see their recognition shine through when we rub the sunflowers or shake the poppies to collect the seeds – they know exactly what to expect this time around. As a parent/teacher it’s a joy to see that understanding sink in.
I highly recommend that you take some time out to participate in seed-gathering month, particularly if you grow your own fruit or veg, or annual flowers. Peas and beans can be dried on the plant and gathered later, pumpkins and squash can be collected prior to cooking, most wildflowers will self-seed if left but can be encouraged to stick to the borders if collected and hand-sown.
If you are not a gardener, at the very least get out for a seed-spotting walk. By all means leave the seeds where you find them, but use the excuse to get out in nature and think about what those seeds represent; How much depends on one single poppy seed head.;How strongly they rely on other aspects of nature to nurture them. No seed can succeed alone in this sense. There’s a lesson in resilience there waiting to be learned.