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Letter from Publisher

Headshot of publisher Peggy Malecki

Peggy Malecki

While I relish the colors and artistic sunlight of the fall season, I get a little sad each year as the growing season slows, finally jolting to a halt after a hard freeze. Of course, this sentiment is amplified when freezing temps in the 20s are followed by glorious days with above-average warmth. Like many gardeners, I’ve tried over the years to extend the summer with temporary covers, protected plants on cold nights with old towels and bedsheets, and held out hope for just a few more blooms and green leaves before the season ends.
But we live in the Midwest, and winter happens in our gardens. It’s a necessary transition and break, a time for perennial plants and trees to recover for the next season, for birds and animals and insects to adapt and/or hibernate and for us to prepare for winter, reflect on the past season and dream of new possibilities in the coming year. It’s time to pick the green tomatoes, perhaos cover the hearty kale and parsley plants with heavy row cover for the winter months, mulch the perennials, make a hearty soup or stew, bake pumpkin bread and get ready to let the annual winter rest begin.
If you have a yard or garden of any size, from a few containers on the patio to backyard acreage, there are simple things you can do this month to help insects, bees, birds and other creatures that share our yards have adequate winter habitats. Many native bee and wasps (including bumblebees) burrow underground or hide in leaf litter all winter. By keeping whole, fallen leaves and twigs in our gardens and yards, we can help both create hiding places for beneficial insects and protect our garden beds with free mulch that will add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes over the winter. You can also help create winter habitat by leaving plant stalks in place with seed heads for the winter birds. If you need to trim, try to leave about 18 inches of plant material as a place for insects to hide. Twig piles, extra logs and other remnants of summer are also beneficial to leave in place.
This year, we consciously incorporated the theme of mental wellness as an integral component interwoven in the articles in Natural Awakenings Chicago magazine. As we head toward the end of 2022 amid the seemingly constant cycle of economic realities, health concerns, environmental issues, anxiety-provoking news stories and turbulent world events—not to mention the usual stresses of daily life, our families and jobs—we’re focusing this issue on our collective mental wellness. We cover some easily implemented ideas for lowering anxiety, discover natural herbal remedies that can help us destress and look at the connection between mental wellness and what we eat. Of course, it’s autumn harvest season and Thanksgiving is coming, so we also offer up a couple of scrumptious recipes for homemade pumpkin and apple pies!
While we’re in that in-between season before the holiday effect starts in earnest, it’s an ideal time to take some reflective time and feel quiet gratitude for all of the gifts and experiences we’ve been given this year. Add a walk in nature each day to observe the seasonal changes, and we can help to temporarily ease the chatter in our minds and bring a smile to our faces. We can better look forward to the spring if we remember the details in the autumn decline and go with the flow.

Wishing you a colorful autumn and a Happy Thanksgiving!