This morning, I stood with my face to the sun, watching the autumn leaves sift down, and listening to the last of the acorns drop. (What a banner mast year this was in Williamsburg — an acorn extravaganza!)
Those trees, they know when the time is right to let go. To launch the fruits of their annual labor into the world and then rest for a season, gathering their energy for new growth and creation in the spring.
Wishing you a beautiful fall, with ample time for wrapping up, drawing in, reflecting on, and cozying up!
The natural beauty of Virginia was intoxicating to me.
The Blue Ridge Mountains invaded the sky outside of town, magnolias bloomed, birds sang;
in fact the romantic stories about the South are not imagination.
There is a special softness to the air, like realized nostalgia.
- Gladys Taber, from Harvest of Yesterdays (1976)
Birthday flowers, waiting for a week to be photographed in good light. Then this poem reminded me: the best time is now. No matter cloudy skies!
Ode to the Present
by Pablo Neruda
as a wooden slab,
as a new cup
from the past–
no spider web
with our fingers,
we cut it
according to our magnitude
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t lose it in dreams
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a kiss, Read the rest of this entry »
Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond themselves
and no longer nourish illusions.
They delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted
by flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.
- Psalm 1, Verses 1-3, translated by Stephen Mitchell
New Year’s Eve: a wonderful night for celebration, a wonderful night for an anniversary!
Wishing you all a sparkling evening!
Wishing you and yours every gift of this season:
joy, peace, and love,
cheer, comfort, and contentment,
abundance, wonder, and gratitude!
With thankfulness for your good company here
as A Life in Season evolves and enters its third year,
and with warm winter wishes to all,
Happy Solstice, everyone! As I type, winter is stepping into our town’s parlor with a warm hug and a gentle shake of droplets from her gray raincoat. A very cozy beginning to the season!
Darkness will come early tonight, and if the skies are clear, our little family will celebrate winter’s arrival with a bonfire by the lake. By the Yule log, we’ll warm our hands and faces, reflecting with gratitude on the many blessings of the last year, and setting our intentions for the next.
Once inside, we’ll be starting a new Solstice tradition: the gift of winter-themed books for the youngest readers in the family! This year, we picked three sweet titles for our baby boy: The Tomten (in honor of his Swedish heritage), Grandmother Winter (in honor of his German heritage), and Flannel Kisses by Linda Crotta Brennan. All are stories that celebrate the traditions and simple pleasures of wintertime itself, and all are readable the whole season long (not just December 25). At bedtime, we’ll read them alongside A Child’s Calendar by John Updike, a favorite book for marking the progression of the seasons year-round.
Enjoy this shortest day and longest night of the year, everyone! Wishing you peace and light this holiday season!
B’s been having some fussy days. Brand new teeth, a mystery food allergy (I actually think the culprit is grains, which are pretty new to him), and growing pains. This morning, I strapped him into the stroller to watch the world go by together, hoping it would take his mind off of his baby worries. Of course, I brought the baby carrier, too, because, well, often a walk that begins like this:
Ends like this:
Even when he is in a good mood!
He made it about 15 minutes before demanding the baby carrier. I always enjoy an excuse to snuggle that baby boy, so we walked home with his head nestled under my chin and the stroller pushed along, empty, before us.
In complete earnestness, I say: these are the best days of my life. I know in my heart that raising children is the most important thing I will ever do, my biggest contribution to the world. More important than anything I ever publish, than any service I ever provide, than any item I ever sell. I am fascinated by children, by the biology of how they grow, by the process by which they become their own people.
Motherhood feels important to me. Even the parenting tasks that are commonly maligned or belittled — changing diapers, soothing crying jags, washing sticky fingers, reading favorite books again and again — feel important to me, small pieces of the larger puzzle of good parenting, simple factors that, if multiplied deftly, result in the product of a happy family.
I spent years engaged in academic pursuits the world told me should be deeply fulfilling, but, to me, weren’t. Now I spend my days engaged in domestic pursuits the world tells me shouldn’t be deeply fulfilling, but, to me, are. It took becoming a mother to show me that a mother is what I was always meant to be. I am so thankful to Bennett for bringing my heart to this place.
Especially on, and through, his fussy days.
This stew is so good. So good. Perfect for autumn: hearty and toothsome. And oh-so-easy! If you’re the type who tends to skip recipe steps, I beg you: resist that temptation and make the lemon yogurt to finish! Its creamy, bright tang is the perfect complement to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and nuttiness of the farro and lentils. Together, the flavors of this recipe make my tastebuds sing. Sing. I hope you find yours singing, too!
Farro and Green Lentil Stew
(“Farro Soup” from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day - such a great cookbook!)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 cup peeled and diced sweet potato or winter squash [We add a little extra.]
Fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
2/3 cup whole or semi-pearled farro, rinsed [We use semi-pearled.]
1 1/4 cups green or black lentils, picked over and rinsed [We like LePuy French Green lentils, and for ease, we rinse the lentils and farro together in a fine mesh sieve.]
6 to 7 cups vegetable broth or water [We often use chicken broth]
1 cup plain yogurt or Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche [We go Greek!]
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and sweet potato. Add a big pinch of salt and saute until the onions soften a bit, a couple of minutes. Add the curry powder and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant, a minute or so. Add the farro, lentils, and 6 cups of the broth. Bring to boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, or until the farro and lentils are cooked through. (If you’re using semi-pearled farro, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.) Taste and season with more salt if needed; how much you’ll need depends on the saltiness of your broth. Don’t under-salt; the soup will taste flat.
While the soup is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Serve each bowl of soup topped with a dollop of lemon yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.
In recent days, the wave of fall color has crested. The leaves — once awash in brilliant warm tones — are paling to subtler hues. And their languid, beautiful dance to the earth has begun. Yesterday on our walk, B and I stood entranced by the falling leaves, loosened from their branches by a gentle breeze, fluttering to the ground in drifts of gold. Fall is called fall for good reason.
Mother Nature and all her creatures — ourselves included! — are settling in for the crisp, cold months ahead. Wrapping up the harvest, laying in for winter. Taking stock, making note. Turning inward, breathing deep. Readying our hearts and our homes for the season about to unfold. It is a glorious one, if we are prepared for it!
Tonight is the eve of the November full moon. In the late afternoon, don a favorite sweater, step outdoors into the autumn dusk, look for its glow above the russet treetops! Happy full moon, everyone!
Starling season is approaching… Breathtaking!
Thanks to Christina Birdsong (how appropriate!) for the link!
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P.S. Walking In Season photos for October and November are waiting to be shared. They are just as excited to show themselves to you as so many of you are to see them! Soon, I promise!