A Mum for the Season

A Mum for the Season

Are you a gardener? If so, I bet you are putting your lawn and garden away for another season.

You most likely are harvesting vegetables, planting spring bulbs, picking up the leaves that are already falling, and closing up the patio furniture. Even with this odd COVID summer, the time has flown and we are closing up our outdoor gardens and yards for another year.

For me, I must have a mum for the season. I don’t need a whole bunch of fall flowers, but I do need a burst of color that reminds me of fall. So, I went out and purchased one large yellow mum and plopped it on my front porch. What a burst of color even as we have shorter days and more rainy days. I can sit and look at my mum and think about all of the beauty to unfold this season.

Do you have a go to plant or flower that you look forward to having around as you change seasons? If so, I hope you will keep your tradition. It’s not quite time for pumpkins and gourds, but soon.

It’s all unfolding quickly…

First Day of Fall: A Balance Point

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of Fall! Welcome, Autumn!

I am thinking about all the wonderful things I am ready to do as this new season arises. Cozy comfort foods to cook, drives to see the leaves, fall hikes, crisp weather calling me to pull out my sweaters and boots, a crisp chill in the air to accompany my running through the leaves, and more.

It’s Autumn. Yet, today is also the Autumnal Equinox. That moment — no matter where you are on the planet — where we are granted equal amounts of light and darkness. Daytime and nighttime are equal. It sounds like such a perfect balance and only Mother Nature can give us one stretch of perfect equanimity.

I feel like today is a perfect moment for a reflection on how well we balance our own lives. Often we live at extremes — not eating any sweets and then eating the whole cupboard, not doing any project and then taking on more than we could ever do, and on and on. Doing all or none of something always feels way easier than actually keeping a balance.

Making step-by-step progress on one project important to you, enjoying one cookie without regrets, spending one’s time across all that matters in equal amounts — now that sounds like balance. It also sounds incredibly difficult. I, too, favor the extremes — something so easy in the all in or all out approach.

However, the Autumnal Equinox gives us a natural example of how beautiful and fine it is to balance one’s self. It may not be easy, but what is in reality? Take time and savor this change of season and be present to how you can balance yourself and life this season.

Apple Season

Apple Season
Apple Season is Here!

I was just at the grocery store and noticed there are no more plums and peaches available, but rather so many varieties of applies. Definitely! Autumn is here. There is something about apples that take me back to my childhood days when I used to climb the apple orchard trees and pick my one apples. Such a fun excursion! I am curious if you have any fond memories of apple season?

Crunchy, tart, sweet, pies, tarts, hard, red, yellow, cores — some of the first words that come to my mine when I think of apple season.

And now my mind turns to how apples offer us an opportunity to relish the new season. There are so many things you can do with an apple — even putting them into a bowl on the counter to look at or even draw appeals.

Even as a mediation, keep your apples in mind this season:

Sketch an apple

Bake your apples — and what else to make with apples

Cut the apple peel in one long ring — I encourage you to at least try

Core an apple

Pick apples

Go apple picking

Host an apple tasting — can you taste the difference. Even better, blindfold yourself and try to guess the variety

What more can you do with your apples? You tell me. The most important thing is to be mindful that we are in apple season. Relish it!

This is Autumn!

A Plan for Autumn

A Plan for Autumn

Are you an endless summer person or one who is ready for Autumn? Recently, I was reading an article in the NYT about exactly this point in the year. It’s an important moment in the year.

During the regular years of the past, children are actually heading back to school, parents are returning to the hum of their lives with their children preoccupied for the better part of weekdays, we are turning over the closets to our sweaters and boots, apple cider and comfort foods are back in vogue, and all of us can feel the holidays coming — Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — that is if you live in America and celebrate these holidays.

This year, this moment feels fraught. COVID is still alive and kicking around our communities. Although there is a degree of freedom that most of us did not have in the spring, it’s still advised to maintain distance, stay quarantined in your pod, and restrict what you are doing in the world. If you aren’t restricting it, somewhere guidelines are. So, now, it feels even more poignant to leave the carefree good weather days of summer where outdoor patio dining makes you feel somewhat safe to go out to eat, social distance picnics and camping kept us in real contact with others (goodbye Zoom for awhile!), and it just felt good to exercise outdoors!

So, what is your plan for Autumn? How are you going to approach this moment in the calendar year? Perhaps you are hanging on to dear life to these last days of summer? Perhaps you are already enjoying the pumpkin drinks at the coffee shop? Perhaps you are betwixt and between? It’s a moment to mark and to make a plan.

It’s going to be a different Autumn — many of the traditional activities are nil or on-line, flu season is almost here and so taking care is going to be extra important, we are moving into news media central with an election on in America this November – how will you take care, rejuvenate, stay connected, but also have space and time for you.

It’s time to make your plan for Autumn. May there be many magical moments even as we lose light and the air chills.

Early Signs of Autumn

Early Signs of Autumn

Happy End of August! I can hardly believe it is the last day of the month.

Yet, when I look around and tune into the current days, I can definitely tell there are early signs of Autumn all around me — and you too if you are in the northern hemisphere.

First off, as I have taken walks in the woods around the Pacific Northwest, I see the smallest tinges of color among the green leaves. And even the green leaves have lost their brilliance. Oh there is still plenty of green, but it has taken on a dull, tired hue. The leaves still seem to want to cling to summer, but are on the brink of adding some color to their character. I see it here and there. It surprises me as I’m not quite ready — and yet, I love Autumn.

Then I notice that the days are shortening — it’s dark when I wake up in the morning and the sun is down and dark by 8 pm. Ah. Shorter days where we pull our blinds early and hunker indoors a little earlier day by day. It’s still lovely weather during the day, but as the sun goes down it gets cooler and I find myself pulling on long sleeved T’s to match the cooler evenings.

I ended up tossing out my petunia plant this past week as well. She was still flowering, but she was beginning to droop and look tired. Wait, what? I love my flowers, but when I see these tell tale signs, I know it’s time to buy a mum and call it a day on my summer flowers. I love watering my flowers morning and night and so this ritual comes to an end as I look toward Autumn.

What signs are you seeing that Autumn is on her way? We still have three weeks or so until Autumn officially arrives, but well before that date, signs of the new season are all around. During this pandemic year, the idea of hunkering down indoors once again may hold less appeal than other years. Yet, no matter, nature changes the seasonal calendar.

Showing up, taking it in, and being present to these early signs of Autumn are an important ways to prepare for the impending change of season.

Something Pretty

Sometimes We Need Something Pretty

I need a day. You do too?

I need a day where I interrupt my stressed out feelings with something pretty. Something beautiful. A mere image to capture my attention and turn it away from the crazy week I have been having.

I can’t say I am inspired to write much of anything. Perhaps this lack of inspiration should be a sign to take a break, slow down, find something pretty and think on that.

So, that’s what I’m doing today. I am sharing a picture of some stunning flowers that I took while I was visiting my Father-in-Law in SE Asia last summer. It feels like a moment ago, but it was a year — almost.

Something pretty for today.

Creativity Burst: Flower Power

Flower Power
Here’s to Flower Power!

Are you enjoying the height of the summer flower season about now? If you just take a mere walk around your neighborhood in the Northern Hemisphere of the world, it seems like there are bursts of flower power color everywhere you look!

One of my favorite parts of summers is hanging baskets of petunias. Not only do I love the color these flowers offer my backyard, it is a season where I get to directly care for living flowers that are in full display this time of year.

From watering them morning and night to dead heading the flowers that have fizzled, I feel so very satisfied as I interact with my flowers. I know others have actually planted flowers and they are being rewarded this time of year. I know others who are buying flowers for themselves and loved ones and enjoying the beauty of arranged flowers.

Flowers do not last — even my pots are really only good for the short season — but how wonderful to be surrounded by their cheer even if only for a few weeks. I have been known to sing to my flowers — they seem to thrive even more when I do this. I also love to just sit amongst my flowers. Such cheer. They help take my mind to something creative, hopeful, and bright. Sometimes I journal beside my flowers — another way in to finding my muse.

How are flowers creative? Think and marvel on the fact of how they grow. The colors and shapes they take on. What images come to mind? What memories may a flower evoke for you? If your flower has scent, does it transport you somewhere? If so, where?

I hope on this perfect mid-summer — height of summer! — day you have some flowers surrounding you, making you happy, providing a creative a burst of color within and toward others.

Here’s to flower power!

Book Review: Gift From the Sea

Gift from the Sea Book
A Perennial Summer Favorite Book

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a perennial favorite book of mine.

Although there are many print runs of this book, my book looks like this one, which was printed in the 1960s. My Mother gave this book to my Grandmother. She must have read it but it sat on her bookshelves for most of her life. However, one day she gave it to me. She tracked who gave the book to whom and on which date. Family history via a book.

In any case, Gift From The Sea is an absolute favorite book of mine. Anne heads to the ocean in the book and enjoys a few weeks of her summer there as she reflects on life via the shells she finds on the beach. It is definitely written in a different time, and it is very obvious that Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a woman of great means and privilege. She had many children, but had the ability and means to remove herself from her family and spend weeks during the summer contemplating what life meant to her, especially her path as a wife and mother.

Although dated, her ideas, thoughts, and the metaphor of the seashells that she uses still resonate. I pick up this book each summer and I underline the ideas and words that resonate with me that summer and I put my initials and the month and year beside what I have underlined. In this way, I am able to track my years by what was resonating at any given time for myself. It’s become a very cool way of looking at myself and the meaning I am making in my world through the years.

This book makes space for contemplation, reflection, and gentleness as we take this journey to find the meaning of our own lives. Reading this book annually is a tradition that I look forward to each summer.

Is there a book that calls to you and that you return to year in and year out? For me, it has to be Gift From the Sea. I highly recommend it to you.

Creativity Burst: Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds – not that exciting by themselves, as are most seeds. However, think of this creative idea as planting sunshine.

We are limited in what we can do these days, but here is a quick and fun idea to do with your family. Head to your local nursery and purchase some packets of sunflower seeds.

From there, take a drive and sprinkle the seeds as you drive along. This would be best to do on a rural or country road near to where you live. Sprinkle away. If you have kids this could be quite entertaining.

That’s all! Now you have to wait for your sunshine to grow. Whether it be later in the season or next year, take a drive and take in the view of the sunshine you planted long ago. The seeds will take hold and grow. Almost a miracle.

You could also do this in your own back yard or neighborhood if you want to see your results closer to home, but I think a refreshing drive out to the country where you scatter sunflower seeds and then get to see them later is such a quaint idea. It’s one that takes both hope and patience. Whenever we plant, it is an act of not knowing if something will bloom – or not.

Just like in our lives we plant many seeds, but then we often don’t know what is going to take hold and bloom. But we plant and scatter seeds and live in hope that what we put our attention to will bloom. It’s all an act of faith.

Plant some sunshine this summer and wait. What bloomed? Perhaps you.

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady

Do you love nature? How about sketch drawings? One more question — do you appreciate each month and the beauty it offers to you all the year through?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, but particularly if you replied yes to all three then this little book gem is for you. This is another old book that I have dusted off my shelf and found recent enjoyment in as it truly does follow The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady, Edith Holden.

Edith takes a year in her life and documents all of the natural moments she finds both in seemingly perfect quotes — even grounding us in the meaning of the months’ names – and drawing images that she finds in nature, much like the cover of the book. All throughout the books sketch drawings capture one’s eye as it takes in the birds, bees, and other critters and flora she finds on her way.

She breaks the year down by month and takes us through how the animals and plant life change as the months on the calendar turn. I was always drawn to her timeline of dates during each month. It won’t be every day of the month listed, but a splattering of dates where she does something or happens upon some unique aspect of nature. So charming!

It’s only a little slice of Edith’s life that we get to see, but it’s so full of charm. I believe it would be a perennial favorite — a book that can be pulled out again and again to become grounded in nature and even imagine your own year full of natural glory.

It’s summer – a perfect season to be outdoors and take in your own nature notes. Perhaps you will be sketching them, or recording your days in a journal, or just inspired by your own natural muses. It’s fun to pull out the books on your shelves that you’ve had forever and reread them to find meaning anew.