Harvest to Hibernation: Preparing the Hearth

Fall leaves

Fall is traditionally thought of as harvest time, a time for gathering nature’s bounty, and preparing it for storage. Food is preserved for hibernation season. While we, as humans, do not actually hibernate in winter, we resonate with the energy of the season. Many animals hibernate, plants die down while roots preserve energy for the spring. The sun is low in the sky, days are shorter, it is darker and colder and we are drawn home.

Home is where the heart is but it is also where the hearth is. Preparing the hearth means creating a warm, safe space. Fall is a time to make sure our homes are ready for the extreme yin season, while also preparing our bodies, minds and spirits. Surviving and thriving in winter relies on the ability to draw on the reserves of food, warmth, and energy that we have gathered and preserved in accordance with the seasons.

Here are some things to consider in Fall to better prepare for winter:

Nutritional transitions: In Chinese Medicine, Fall is lung season. Don’t miss this opportunity to nourish and moisten the lungs with foods like pears, apples, figs, cauliflower, and daikon radish. Keeping the lungs strong will build immunity for the sometimes harsh conditions we face in Winter. Plenty of fiber is also important to help clean out the Large Intestine (the lung’s paired organ) and prevent digestive stagnation as everything slows down in Winter. Most food should be cooked to maintain the body’s digestive fire. Warming teas with cinnamon and ginger are delightfully seasonable as temperatures drop throughout fall and winter.

Lifestyle transitioning: Winter is the peak of yin time. Yin time is about going inward into stillness. Fall is the beginning of the yin season and when we should begin that inner journey.  The excitement of summer quiets down and we begin to require more sleep and rest in general. It’s important to slow down as we don’t want to expend the energy reserves that are needed to keep us warm and healthy throughout the frost. This is also a time to layer our clothing as the temperatures drop. Chinese medicine practitioners will always remind you to make sure you have a favorite scarf in the Fall to cover the nape of your neck. This area of the body is especially vulnerable to chilly winds that can penetrate and disturb our homeostasis.


Emotional transitions:  In preparation for the reflective yin time ahead, we are compelled to feel some grief as we say goodbye to summer. We’re about to observe the natural cycle of death happening around us as the earth progresses towards winter. If we have created space and time to feel the natural sadness of letting go in the fall, and release those energies appropriately, it will be that much easier to face the emotional energies of winter, the darkest season. Winter is associated with the emotion of fear and facing our fears helps us tap into our strength, our courage and our willpower. 

Fall is a time for practical considerations when it comes to winterizing our homes, cars, and land. Depending on where/how we live, we may find our to-do lists filled with things like cleaning out the gutters, inspecting the chimney, checking antifreeze levels, and spreading mulch in the garden. Regardless of how we prepare externally, it is just as important to prepare internally for the change of season.

Want some assistance with these internal preparations? Call or schedule online for some fall acupuncture to ‘prepare the hearth’ and set yourself up for a smooth transition into winter!