Festivals & Fruit Crumble

img_6229 It is a festive time in many cultures throughout the world.

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My Dawali mandala is inspired by my friend Rashmi, who is from Nepal but lives in Spain. To view more of my mandalas check out my Flora Mandala page!

In India, Nepal, and other southeast Asian countries, and by Hindus everywhere, and those who appreciate and celebrate Hindu  festivals, the multi-day festival of light, Dawali, or Dipawali  falls in late October. It’s date, determined by the Hindu calendar, can vary on the Gregorian calendar.  This year the primary day of Dawali is October 30.   Depending upon which country, there are many stories and legends associated with this festival of light, but everywhere it is a time for joyous celebration, gift giving, holiday foods, family and friends, a time for light and goodness to claim victory over darkness and evil. 🔥

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my tiny acorn squash jack o’lantern!

Those whose autumn celebrations hark to early Celtic culture celebrate Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve October 31. Originally called Samahain, it was time to prepare for winter at a time where such preparations were a matter of survival.  It is seen as a time when the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living is lifted, letting the former raise havoc with the later.  Bonfires, candles, and other means of discouraging such behavior were, and still are, popular, while at the same time, the tradition of trick or treating implies a certain amount of encouraged mischievousness! 👻

picframeDia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, November 2, is celebrated in Mexico and by those whose roots, and hearts, are in Mexican culture.  The holiday includes the Day of the Innocence, November 1, to honor the souls of children who have died. Though there is a belief the veil between the after life and the living is easier to pass through, souls of loved ones come in peace, to counsel and console those living, not to raise havoc! A beautiful and unique folk art that is popular from the traditions of the Day of the Dead are ‘sugar skulls’, usually made of sugar to be placed on altars to deceased loved ones, but also made of clay or other materials. 💀

If you were to combine the intent of these three fabulous holidays, you would be focused on letting light into your life, into the world, celebrating the victory of good over evil, while appeasing the ancient spirits, who may do you some harm, but who also may offer you wisdom.  Well anyway, that’s my summary and I think all these intentions are worth celebrating!

img_6129Any holiday that involves lighting candles, which all three do, on a dark and rainy autumn day I am all for!

Below is a recipe for my latest favorite comfort food,  my version of an all American, easy-peasy fall dessert. You might want to make it to offer whatever spirits you need to appease, honor, or any evil entities that need sweetening! The ‘secret’ to the recipe below is my usual mantra – fresh spices! In this case, if possible, grated fresh nutmeg, a warming spice that is calming to the nerves and mind, adds a unique flavor.  Note: If you have trouble sleeping, with all these spirits wandering around, take 1/4 to 1/2 t. of fresh ground nutmeg 4 or 5 hours before you’d like to go to sleep, in warm milk or milk substitute, or in applesauce, nut butter, etc.

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adorable little jack o” lantern by Karen Brown in Kentucky. Mug by Jerry Weatherman on Orcas Island.

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Changing Times

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Blueberry leaves on a sunny fall day

Between times. That’s where both the weather today and the “climate” of our country seems to be.

The last several days have been beautiful fall days with blue skies, sunshine, and a touch of clouds. Autumn crispy cool temperatures in the shade made sitting in the sun even more delicious. BIG windstorms predicted for the next few days, with remnants of a typhoon swirling around the Pacific Ocean hitting us Saturday, create a feeling of anticipation.

img_6036It was calm when Abby and I took our morning walk, the forest felt “moody” and I wondered if trees anticipate the approach of storms. I’ve often observed animals seem to.  The ducks in the park where we walked this afternoon, usually assertive in checking to see if I, as a human, brought food (I never do), were quietly tucked into the reeds, barely visible. I assume members of the plant kingdom also have a sense of pending changes in the atmosphere, as plants have been shown to be very sensitive to environmental stimuli.  I ponder how we humans once had that ability.  There are cultures still, removed from our technology consumed societies, where people use their intuition and attunement with Nature to “predict” change. With our dependency on TV and internet pundits, we look more for answers outside ourselves, for the weather and much more.  Though people often say they feel the impact of changing weather, seasons (even the political “climate”) on their health and well-being, we’ve lost, from lack of use, the sharpness and nuances of many innate instincts people once depended on.

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Big Leaf Maples, unique to the Northwest and so awesome, some 13″ across, make great leave mulch. Seen here with tiny vine maple & osier dogwood leaves.

I believe people truly in-tune with Nature through their intuition and instincts, without the hype and drama of headlines and social media, prepare calmly for such changes – in the weather, in the seasons, in their own bodies, for they know these events are part of life – both inevitable and necessary, with both “good” and “bad” outcomes.
img_0528As devastating as “natural” disasters are (“disaster” being a human applied label), we hear also of the benefits afterwards…….beautiful wildflower blooms in deserts after unusual rainy seasons and flooding, seeds that need forest fires to sprout, etc. I’ve always called our wind storms (which usual occur in November) Nature’s annual pruning, as necessary as the pruning we do in our yards, or when we cut our own hair! This fall pruning makes for a stronger tree, more able to withstand the possible heavy snows of winter. The debris brought down by storms have a myriad of useful purposes, leaves for mulch, trees that become nurse logs, or divert streams, creating pools for salmon to spawn, and so forth. Nature goes for the big picture and there are benefits to what we see as disastrous to our human lives.

Modern technology that provides accurate forecasts definitely saves lives, unquestionably a good thing, people can better prepare for storms, hurricanes, etc.  I suspect our ancestors were able to prepare also by listening to their own intuition.  These events are not evil actions of Nature, but part of Nature’s cycles, to be appreciated even as we prepare for them.  (This is not to downplay the tragedy of lives and homes lost in the recent hurricane, or in any natural event. I hope we all rally to help those impacted.)

Or maybe such powerful events are Nature’s way of getting angry with us for misbehaving, a Mother pushed too far saying Enough! Pay attention!

Stay cozy as fall, this season of change, brings us good excuses to snuggle in, make soup, or a bowl of comforting pasta (suggestion below) and read a good book, no power required as long as you have your flashlight or candles!

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