Lately, my soul has been feeling kind of scraped up, as if it has taken a few punches. I think it started back in the spring, with the six weeks of rain; since then, every time the sky clouds over, I cringe and worry that it'll be December before we see the sun again.
And, I feel like I didn't get enough summer. I know that sounds whiny, but I find myself unwilling to put on socks, or dig out the winter clothes, or just give in already and let fall come. As if I could single-handedly keep fall at bay, through mental resistance. This is weird, too, because fall is usually my favorite season.
So, arguments with hubby have escalated, disputes with the kids end more often than not with me shouting as my eyes bug out of my head; everything seems a much bigger problem than it would, ordinarily.
And then, there's the food. We spent this summer in the grip of a huge tomato blight, and so many other locally grown favorites had trouble, too: the eggplant, the peppers, the strawberries, the cherry tomatoes, the tomatillos, the basil, the cilantro... and the list goes on.
So, that's been my underlying mindset - worrying, sadness, fear of what's happening to our corner of the world. My soul, the place inside me where joy and light live, has spent these last months with a shadow across it.
Until recently. I think it was right around my brother's wedding that I started feeling better. Also, each day brings rosier, more beautiful trees and weather that has cooled gradually; one week, I can still wear sandals, but I'd better find a sweatshirt. The next, we need another blanket on the bed. The next week, I actually want soup for dinner, with nice warm biscuits served alongside. It's like this gentle, lovely autumn is cosmically trying to make up for the recent abysmal spring.
And, because I am me, food plays a huge part in the restoration of my soul. Eggplant minestrone, our first soup of the fall, cheered me immensely, inside and out; here's the recipe, in case you want to try it.
When one of the hens started laying, that was a big strike against the shadow on my soul.
The egg from our girl is in the lower-left corner; in the House of Worrying, I fretted that the hens weren't getting enough time outside the coop, semi-free-ranging in their chicken tractor, but I don't worry about that now. The egg, alongside those we get from a local farm, is such a happy, bright orange color that it is clear it came from a happy, bright chicken. The shadow recedes a little more!
And, my friend Shannon loaned me the best book of bread-making ever, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I already loved baking bread, but this book makes it even more fun. My banner is the result of experimenting, with the book as a guide: Brioche au Chocolat, as good as you will ever get in a pastry shop (I know, tooting my own horn... it is THAT good.)
Candles help, too. What is it about candle flame that cheers me all the way through?
I think the shadow finally got gone this weekend, spent apple picking and corn-mazing with friends and relatives. Here are the boys and their cousins at a nearby farm, hamming it up for the camera:
So now, it is with a thankful heart and a restored soul that I look forward to autumn and winter, warmth and love... I hope you're having similar good thoughts and a nice fall, too.