beautiful brew


Last weekend we went hiking both Saturday and Sunday and it couldn't have been more beautiful.  Thick fog and mist hung in the trees, bits of gold flashed and fluttered in the wind.  The forest was dark and soft and (human) silent.   We only saw a few other people out on the trail, another reason to love being out in the woods in the colder temperatures.

The weather at home has been all over the place.  Clear blue skies and bright sunshine one minute, charcoal skies and sideways rain the next.  Leaves are still hanging on to some trees, but the colors have largely fallen to the rain-slicked streets and sodden yards.  It's that messy, soppy point in fall.  A beautiful brew of not quite here / not quite there.  

It starts getting dark around 4:30 now, and the long dark evenings are just wonderful.   Most evenings after dinner I sit in my chair by the wood stove with a book (currently The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard or The Electricity of Every Living Thing by Katherine May), dimmed lights or candlelight, a cup of tea or a wee dram, and one very happy Pip next to me, but some evenings the moon calls and I set off down the hill, wrapped in a cloak of darkness, enchanted by the golden light glowing from windows and the mystery of each house.  

I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for many years in town the other day.  It was one of those low days where I felt like I was failing at everything - motherhood, friendship, name it - and the hugs she gave me were like medicine.  It's a rare thing for me to have a close female friend, but we worked together and just clicked.  We were still pretty close for a few years after that, but, life, and I think the last time I saw her was when T was still little.  I can't wait to sit down and really catch up with her.  It made my week.  

I'm not sure what this weekend holds yet, we've made no plans, but I'm hoping for some more hiking, and, since it's supposed to be dry, maybe a meal around the fire pit.  I may not be back in this space until after Thanksgiving, in which case I wish you now the loveliest of celebrations with your families.  

slow notes:

  • I read recently that someone suggested an outdoor school for adults, for Oregon transplants who didn't get to experience it in 6th grade.  I went to outdoor school near Lebanon, Oregon in 6th grade, and it is a shining memory.  I'd go, again, in a heartbeat.  This, from OPB.
  • This, from Virginia Woolf:
    I need solitude. 
    I need space. 
    I need air. 
    I need the empty fields round me;
    and my legs pounding along roads; 
    and sleep; 
    and animal existence.  

    (I think I need to read more of her, soon.)

the quiet after


It's Monday.  A new month.  Welcome, November.  The sky is gray, a bit dark, and rain is falling.  I've been doing laundry and trying to finish my book, Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl.  I think I'll take a walk in the rain later, after the boy comes home from school - maybe I can convince him to come with me.  The day feels slow and soft after the whirlwind of yesterday's Halloween / Samhain activities.  

It was such a perfect day, starting with the three of us having coffee downtown, reminiscing over Halloweens past, pulling up photos of little T in his costumes.  Four Halloweens have gone by when he hasn't wanted to dress up or trick or treat, but this year he did.  I have to admit, I was overjoyed.  My favorite day of the year and I got to go out with him like the old days, carrying my lantern through the streets of this neighborhood I love, and my heart just about burst.  Early evening, we had a lovely candlelight dinner in the dining hall.  I made this pumpkin/apple/acorn squash curry.  Candles burned on the ancestor altar nearby, which held photographs, items belonging to and made by ancestors, and the flowered box that holds my beloved Klaus's ashes.  Later, after trick or treating, my husband built a fire and we talked while waiting for the last of the kids to come to our door.   I went to bed with a very happy heart.  

With all the rain we've been getting, the grass is lush and green again, the earth soaked and soft, and the ferns look like they hold a little more magic than usual.  (Speaking of ferns, I've found my dream mittens.   Really wishing I'd gotten past the dishcloth stage of knitting now.)  We're still seeing hummingbirds in the back yard, often, usually around the old apple tree.   Skinny (the squirrel that seems to live at our house) is always about, either on our front porch or leaping from branch to branch out back.  The scrub jays and the crows have frequent squabbles, the jays in the maple, the crows in the willow, each with very impressive vocalizations (but the crows forever have my heart).   

slow notes:  

I've long wanted to learn to quilt, but lately I've been more drawn than ever to this slow craft.  I'd love to someday be able to make a quilt of my own design.  My dad's mother was a quilter who made quilts for all of her eleven children, and then for their children, and so on.  I love having that connection to her and her time (personal time, as well as her era), knowing that her hands created it.  I think quilting is going on my to-learn list for 2022.  Online inspiration:  Grace Rother QuiltsPublic Library Quilts, Farm & Folk,  Salt + Still.

When I drove T to school this morning, Norwegian Soloists' Choir was singing Jesus Din Sote Forening A Smake on All Classical Portland and it was so beautiful, it melted into me.    When I got home I looked them up and listened to the other songs on the album, and they are all amazing.   I absolutely love this kind of choral music.

I'm feeling quiet, and grateful for this season, the magic of the natural world, and my family.  I hope you are feeling some gifts of the season, too.  Until next time ~



As I write this, rain is pouring, wind is blowing, and I can hear Yaz's Only You coming up through the vents from the garage downstairs where my husband is working.  The weather has been stormy with rain and high winds, both here and in Walla Walla where we were visiting family over the weekend.  My 89-year-old dad has been in the hospital for two weeks after breaking his hip, and it was so nice to put my arms around him and look into his eyes.  It's hard to see him diminished; he's always been active and mobile, his life lived working outdoors as a farmer, a maintenance man, a construction worker.  He's been a lifelong gardener, a marathon runner in his 50s, and he has always been the man who would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need.  He is healing well, though, and he is going home today.  

I hear people complaining about this weather, but I couldn't love it more.  Daily walks are truly magical in these conditions.  I can't bear to keep the windows of the house shut just yet.  I know the day will come when it will just be too cold, but for now I'm willing to put on more layers during the day and pile more blankets on at night so that I can feel the wind on my face and hear the rustling leaves and the creatures of the night more clearly.

Our suppers in the dining hall are a favorite time of day.  My husband and I seem to be taking turns making supper - he's a much better cook than I am, but he indulges my desire to make warming, garlicky, vegetable-heavy meals.  I made this last week, substituting coconut milk for the heavy cream but otherwise as written.  If you have any good autumnal or winter soup / stew recipes, please share.  I've found that adding turmeric to my daily juice or blend for warmth is really quite good.  I mostly juice vegetables, with ginger and some citrus or apples, but citrus is out of season now and not nearly as good, so I'm relying on my standbys of carrots and beets, plus cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, and kohlrabi.  I save all trimmings, stems, hearts, what have you, to juice.  Nothing goes to waste.  

When my parents sold their house, I was given a box of photographs they'd collected over the decades.  I've been going through some of them today to pick out and frame, and while I'm at it I think I'll set a few out in the dining hall for our Samhain supper.  

Over the weekend I finished my two favorite books I've read so far this year:  David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous, and Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit.  I loved both of these and how they talked about our relationships with the non-human world.  I don't think there's been a book I've so personally identified with as Rooted since Elaine Aron's The Highly-Sensitive Person.  So much of what Haupt says already lives in my heart and speaks to my personal feelings, experiences, and wishes. 

slow notes:  

Michael Sheen performing the Welsh poetry of Dylan Thomas, here

Did you know it's BAT WEEK? Over the summer we were talking about putting up a bat house - we'd often see them flying around the trees of our back yard when we lingered out there late.  I love them. 

Dr. Andrew Weil is where I first heard breath work talked about many years ago.  I've been trying to take time for this practice every day recently, sometimes as meditation itself.  His CDs of meditations with a focus on breathing ("go back to the breath") led me through my first attempts at meditation and is still my favorite form.  Plus, there's that middle-of-the-night and general social anxiety it could be helpful with, too.  It may seem funny to think you need to learn to breathe, but there seem to be some clear benefits to these techniques.     

Just back from a walk and came home with a handful of unripe but very beautiful persimmons from a sidewalk stand that said "please take, for your health."  

Happy almost-mid-week to you.  Until next time ~

by mlekoshi