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Summer’s Parting Dream: Late Summer and the Earth Element

A soft veil dims the tender skies, And half conceals from pensive eyes The bronzing tokens of the fall; A calmness broods upon the hills,And summer’s parting dream distills A charm of silence over all. — Henry Van Dyke

In the midst of Summer’s joy, warmth and play — the picnics, the weddings, the family reunions, trips to the beach and mountains — there comes a day when we know that Autumn is on its way. The party is coming to an end. The bloom is fading from the rose. “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” (Wm. Shakespeare) Like a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed, we may wish to believe Summer can go on forever. Nature tells us otherwise. The days are shortening, and mornings are cool. The air feels humid and fragrant with the scent of ripening fruit. The blooms of summer give way to nuts and pods. Leaves take on a yellowing hue, like a premonition of the coming fall colors. Ears of corn ripen on the stalk, and tomatoes redden on the vine. Plants store the energy that they have gathered in on the long days of Summer, and form the seed that will survive the coming months of darkness and start the cycle anew.

Horse chestnuts form and begin to ripen in Late Summer.

This is Late Summer, the season of the Earth Element and the time of harvest. The ancient Chinese divided the year into five seasons rather than four, and regarded Late Summer as a distinct phase of its own. Summer, the season of the Fire Element, represents the peak of activity and Yang energy. Late Summer begins as Yang energy starts to decline and Yin energy begins to increase. Late Summer is time to gear down. Like plant life, the energy of the human body/mind/spirit is turning inward. There is still an abundance of activity, but it is not directed towards new growth. Energy is spent on gathering in the harvest while there is still time, so that we may feel secure and nourished, with plenty of reserves to carry us through the Winter months. If we are too busy and ignore the inward shift, we can easily overextend ourselves at this time of year, leaving us more vulnerable to illness when the cold and flu season begins.
The way to stay healthy in Late Summer is to gear down. Overextending can leave us vulnerable to illness when the cold and flu season begins.

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