Embracing November

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A male Ring Necked Duck pictured above, and a female pictured below.

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An American Widgeon.

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My first sighting of a Townsend’s Solitaire.

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I absolutely love this time of year. What could be more wonderful than the slow, quiet of the early evenings and the wonder of the first snowfall? We are wrapped in the last few days of fall, and there are only a few trees still brazen enough to hold onto their yellow leaves. The rest have all turned brown or fallen, leaving behind bare branches and a peek at the nests hidden therein. We turn to our own nests now, curling up with endless mugs of tea, books, and music to enchant and inspire. The hearth is burning bright and soft, the candles assembled along window sills and on the table. We dust off cookbooks to find new recipes for soups and roasted vegetables, and the air is filled with cinnamon and spice.

Martinmas was last weekend, a holiday focused on bringing your inner light to the world during the darkest time of year. In Waldorf schools, we celebrate with lantern walks, and each brightly shining lantern is a symbol of our own inner light. Though our own Martinmas celebrations were a bit curtailed this year due to scheduling conflicts, I’m still holding space for the image of the lantern, and the reminder to nurture our inner light in these darkening days.

Here’s a little verse I found on Instagram that I absolutely love:

November comes
and November goes,
with the last red berries
and the first white snows.

With night coming early,
and dawn coming late,
and ice in the bucket
and frost by the gate.

The fires burn
and the kettles sing,
and the earth sinks to rest,
until next spring.

-Clyde Watson

Wishing all a peaceful and restful week.

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All Hallows

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It can be challenging to capture the essence of this time of year, there’s something intangible and exciting about the autumn. I always look forward to the shortening days and the way the shadows lengthen in the evenings. There’s something in the air in October that feels otherworldly, and possibility for enchantment hangs in the air and makes us all feel a bit more of the witching spirit. The cold in the evenings and the falling leaves all make me feel nostalgic and I think the world is, for a moment, more open to the possibility of magic.

We celebrated Halloween this year in a rush of falling leaves. To celebrate we carved pumpkins on Halloween afternoon, and then left our cozy house to wander into the cold to see trick or treaters out and about. The evening was spent handing out candy and eating delicious home cooked chili. We try to prepare our dinner for Halloween the day before, so Halloween night can be filled completely with fun and trick or treating. It was perfectly crisp and chilly this year, which made Halloween seem all the more spooky and delightful.

Some ideas for celebrating Halloween:

  • Carve pumpkins – I like to do this close to, or on, Halloween so they don’t get too wrinkled or chewed on by squirrels.
  • Decorate with simple things – paper chains, postcards, pumpkins and candles.
  • Listen to spooky music! (The Monster Mash, Thriller, Werewolves of London, Love Potion Number Nine, Monster Surfing Time, The Shankill Butchers, Danse Macabre, Night on Bald Mountain etc.)
  • Make a cozy and delicious dinner like chili or pasta marinara.
  • Decorate your table with fallen leaves and acorns from walks.
  • Light lots of candles on Halloween night.
  • Read a scary story aloud – Kevin’s been reading Dracula, which has spurred many Vampire-themed conversations.
  • Dress up in your witchy best!

I’m looking forward to posting more about November and self care in this darkening time of year. We are looking forward to Martinmas this weekend, though I will be at work that evening, Kevin and I are trying to think of a way to have a make-up celebration on Monday.

Stay warm, and enjoy the slowness this time of year invites.

Finding Abundance

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I’m always astonished by how much variation there is between the seasons year to year. Last fall was long and golden and warm (too warm for Kevin and my taste) and this fall has been abrupt and cold. We had our first freeze last weekend, and the weather dropped down into the ’20s which completely changed the landscape of the changing leaves. I was upset, frustrated, and a bit unreasonably pessimistic. “Fall is ruined!” I complained to Kevin. Of course, he took my drama in stride and reminded me that there were still plenty of trees that would change over the next week or two. Needless to say, he was right and the trees are aflame all over the city. Though there are plenty that were damaged by the frost and now have freeze dried brown leaves, others were hardy enough to change colors despite the cold. I am reminded once again of the constant abundance of this season. The sidewalks are still shaded with golden light, and there are so many moments where we encounter beauty outdoors. Kevin and I were lucky enough to spot a turtle in the lake the other week – a rare sight indeed! He was bobbing about the shallows, and we could see his beautiful little striped head peeking out of the water. How special it felt to see him just when I was feeling so upset about the “ruined” fall. And now, the autumn is here in full force. The evening are getting dark earlier, and we are retreating into our rhythms at home as much as possible. Suddenly there is so much more space internally for contemplation – a thing I absolutely love about the fall. I’ve been turning more towards warm meals, particularly our favorite carrot soup recipe from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.

In other fall news, I hope you all have enjoyed the revamp I’ve done to this space! I simplified the categories and added a page under the “About Me” tab about the festivals I celebrate. I hope you will find these changes useful and informative. I’m thinking of doing a weekly music series, to share songs that inspire me and fit in with the mood of the season. I’ve been listening to so much medieval music of late, and would love to include some in future posts. For now, take some time to light a candle, read a good book, sip something warm and cozy, and embrace these last jewel-bright days of October.