I’ve always seen October as a time for celebration. These gold-threaded days of Fall call apples to tumble to the earth, fields to soften into silky taupe, trees to blossom red and purple and yellow. At the market dusky pears, meltingly soft figs and taught-skinned grapes spill over tables. Knobby twists of squash spot every staircase. Jack-o-lanterns form toothy mad grins staring empty-headed at the waning moon. The earth gives us its fireworks of color and sugar. Like a final, fire-warmed soft-shoe shuffle before the tempered Winter waltz comes to steal the warmth from our bones.
In Virginia, the Autumn days maintain a lucid heat. I keep my windows closed to avoid the creeping humidity. Still, cool evenings stretch out with a cat-like liquidity, peering and watchful and self-satisfied, whispering to the spiders and mice that soon it will be time to take up residence in human basements, attics, dusty corners.
Before I go to sleep at night, I catch a spindly spider hanging gently along the inner edge of a sea-scape painting my mother made.
My mornings are all hot coffee and toast. I peer out of my kitchen windows to take note of the corners of my frosting yard. Overgrown magenta celosia stalks stand sideways, too heavy from a long warm season, frothy petals sweeping towards the grass. White cosmo blossoms spotted with age spindle towards sunlight. The only fruit left on my persimmon tree (damn squirrels…) swings heavily, half-orange half-green.
I notice my sudden attraction to downy lavender sweaters, burnished corduroy and cups of spicy liquid (all types: curry, chai, bourbon).
The days fill up with nothing in particular.
The air begins to smell of freshly decomposing leaves: musk, black pepper, tea, apple skins, graham crackers, raisins left in the sun.
What a time for heartbreak.
There’s is something rarified about a heart that breaks in the midst of a jeweled, peaceful season. It’s like breaking your leg at prom, pulling fluffy mauve tulle back to observe the twisted limb, skin lit up with starry disco lights. It incites a certain nausea and dizziness amplified by the soft beauty of your surroundings.
Fires in California. Crushing hurricanes in Puerto Rico. Hate rallies. Refugees. Proof that we live in a culture where sexual assault is acceptable. More massacres. Unending confirmation that the leader of the free world is a cheeto-colored clown. Reports from friends that they’re struggling with depression, struggling with money, struggling with grief, struggling with spiritual crises.
Sparrows fly south. The winds change and press fog over the mountains. Trees chameleon and strip.
The contrast jars my senses.
But it also serves to fortify my spirit. I can be brave and calm in the face of this intense human experience if simple pleasures continue to exist. I can stand in my resilient Self if there is pie, tea, laughter, dancing. I can pull myself up by my bootstraps, look challenge in the eye and choose to evolve through the hurt.
The gift we can all receive by slogging over this craggy rainbow is depth. Depth is not easily won. It takes time, attention, fierce resolve and plenty of failure. But in the end you (hopefully) get to experience life colored by that phosphorescent glow of meaning. Including presence, love and the bittersweet awareness that we control nothing beyond the gifts we bring to the table.
So here’s to loving the heartbreak that takes us deeper. Here’s to loving ourselves well enough to live courageously. Here’s to staring the tough stuff in the face without flinching. Here’s to lighting our inner fires so we can see our paths clearly through the dark. Here’s to offering our gifts to life’s feast table and asking for nothing in return.
Oh, and here’s a latte!
I’ve been drinking this soothing, cozy tahini reishi latte almost every day as an afternoon pick-me-up. It warms my heart and soothes my bones and also fights cancer because reishi is cool like that. Reishi is a long time ally and familiar of mine. It soothes inflammation, combats exhaustion and stress, improves digestion, improves seasonal immunity, improves sleep and supports the cardiovascular system. I prefer to consume it as a powder in lattes and broths (although I’ve been known to take it straight as a tincture as well). If you’ve been freaked out by the idea of mushroom lattes or mushroom coffee (which is a trend I can totally get behind) this latte is 100% delicious and not-scary. You can’t taste the reishi at all. It honestly tastes like a cardamom cashew coffee hug. Nutty sesame gives it a je ne sais quoi that I find addictive.
This tahini reishi latte is made entirely in a blender and takes about 5 minutes if you include the tea steep-time. It’s 7 ingredients: cashew butter, tahini (this one), dates, cardamom, cinnamon, herbal coffee and reishi mushroom powder. It has a luscious, creamy texture thanks to the nut butters. It even has that foamy cap so beloved in lattes, a result of fats emulsifying with hot liquid. And the spices really perform wonders for the overall flavor. You could use regular hot-brewed coffee for this too if you’re not into the chicory-based herbal coffee substitutes. And if you’re feeling that whole #PSL trend thing you could add pumpkin spice mix instead of the spices I suggested.
I’ve been digging this herbal coffee from Teecino lately. It comes in tea bags which I find extremely convenient. It makes a delicious base for all sorts of latte goodness. You can also get herbal coffee from Mountain Rose Herbs (a lot of hippie grocery stores carry it in bulk), Ayurvedic Roast or Dandy Blend.