Pumpkins

Healthy It May Not Be

Fall is falling. I looked out my kitchen window this weekend, and the cascading crunchies covered our lawn. Until yesterday, we did not own a rake. We quickly solved that predicament with a trip to the local hardware store, and our Sunday afternoon turned into a lovely time to work on projects, chores, and maintenance of the season. Dylan raked the yard and with the way the winds are blowing, he will likely have to do it again next week. I know, I know, I’ve mentioned my love of this month repeatedly, but there is something magical about the four weeks of the year that make up October. We’ve only got one full week left – are you taking the chance to savor it?

Beauty exists in carving pumpkins- the slime of orange goop dripping down your hands as you balance a knife between your fingertips. Oh! And the delayed gratification that comes from the promise of tasty pumpkin seed snacks roasting in the oven. This weekend we joined family to make treats of caramel apples, and popcorn balls, and little morsels of chocolate. My counter at home is buzzing with sugar asking to be eaten and I find comfort in the beauty of this season’s ritual, routine, and tradition. This year has brought a multitude of unanticipated changes – mostly good for our lives. As I navigate these self-directed detours I take comfort in knowing that I, too, can create some predictability. Carving pumpkins near Halloween? You can count on it. Eating candy corn, making pumpkin bread – these are the activities that ground me as I look around and say the world is changing yet again.

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This week we have had three full days of cloudy drizzle, and I can say with confidence that I have brought out my cowl, and am wearing cowboy boots, and look forward to my North Face puffy jacket becoming a part of my daily routine. I wear this coat from November to March. It’s a well-loved staple for my transition to fall. Fancy Sunday dinners may become a part of our routine as we head into dark evenings, cozy socks and fire places. Do you have any “fine Sunday night dinner” recipes you can share with me? I made this one last night and it was delicious. Healthy it may not be, but gravy sure is a beautiful thing. Wine and sage and thyme, chicken broth and cream. Yum.

I’m nearing the two year mark for this blog, and I sometimes have trouble coming up with original content because I’m noticing themes in my journey to seek beauty. I love books, coffee, and treats, time with family, self-exploration, and get-away vacations. I seem to gravitate towards these things when I feel low and just as often when I feel energized and beautiful myself. These trends bring great awareness, and great potential, as I have the ability to influence their presence in my life all by myself. As you walk through the crunching leaves ask yourself this question – “What beauty can I manifest for myself that helps me to maintain stability as the world spins madly on?”

Little Nuggets of Promise

I’m not good at mornings. I like staying up late and sleeping in if I can. My plan for today was to get up at 6, cozy in to my kitchen with a cup of coffee and write as the sun came up. Doesn’t that sound nice and romantic and what a writer should do? Soaking in those perfect moments of solitude to reflect on life as the worlds rubs its sleepy eyes.

I think I pressed the snooze button 12 times and here I am at 7:50 am just getting started. I’m making this a priority this morning, but it likely means “hat day”, if you know what I mean. I do have coffee made by our new coffee maker which I am so excited about. First world beauty, is that a thing? I guess it is, and the convenience of this programable coffee maker is fabulous! I put the grinds in at night, and presto it makes me my beautiful addictive nectar that gets me going each day. I joke because we now have every method to make a cup of joe. I’ll probably still go to Starbucks, and the coffee shop across from work, but I shouldn’t. I just adore the convenience of this little machine, the routine it provides, the status of adulthood that radiates proudly in my kitchen.

Rave and rave about this machine, I could. I know, beauty in an appliance? How trite. Don’t discount that wonder that comes from the kitchen counter. I am thankful for technology that brings comfort to my daily routine. Sometimes, I stop to ponder how fabulous the world actually is.  Every thing in my kitchen, from the coffee maker to the little bright light bulb in my refrigerator, was created and designed by human intelligence. That’s so neat! The clothes I put on my back, the hairbrush I use to groom, the toothpaste I use to scrub my chompers – all of that was made up by a person and engineered and manufactured and made usable. That’s pretty incredible.  It is easy to focus on all the wrong doings humans create; the accidents, the horror unto one another and unfortunate consequences of quick action. Those exist, sure as heck, but so do little wonders. Remember the book, “The Way Things Work”, by David Macaulay and Neil Ardley, that you used to read when you were a kid? I loved that book and its illustrations and explanations. I ask myself what happened to my wonder at the world? Have I let it be squashed by disappointment and disheartening news? I hope not. There is so much beauty, only when we let it become a part of our day.

This week we carved pumpkins in preparation for Halloween. I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween, but pumpkin carving, that is what I live for. I’m not particularly skilled and my exercise typically involves a cut out pattern of some sort, but the process is fun and full of delightfully slimy gook. I had friends over to partake in the festivities, made a huge batch of chili and got down to work. Here are our results:

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The weather has been unseasonably warm this week, breaking records and causing our creations to shrivel like little old ladies with no teeth. They sit on my porch silently screaming, “How many days ’til we get to rest? This smiling is exhausting us!” Their dropping faces remind me of going to the dentist, or getting braces put on when you have your mouth open for hours and your jaw starts shaking. Hang in there little guys, just a few more days until Halloween. Joy from pumpkins is short lived.

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More amazement, too, comes from the little nuggets of promise mixed in with the slime. I roasted the seeds this year, for the first time on my own. Usually, that’s a job my mom masters, but I gave it a whirl this season. The results were quite excellent – maybe the trick is boiling the seeds in salt water first. Here is the simple recipe that I used. So while my pumpkins may be shrinking to their end, I’ve got their legacy on my kitchen counter and my snack size zip block bag full of their gifts in my work bag. Find ways to carry beauty with you, create reminders that things are good, and wondrous, and worth exploring.

Did you carve a pumpkin? I want to see.