Welcome October! My favorite month of the year. It’s been cold and rainy here in Nebraska, and no one seems to be complaining. The sky hangs heavy with low gray clouds, and the leaves are just beginning to turn. I’ve put away the summer clothes and unpacked the sweaters and scarves. I just made the first batch of chili of the year. Finally, the time for coziness and inner warmth is here.
- Visit an apple orchard. Here in Omaha we are fortunate to live near Nebraska City (it’s where Arbor Day originated, if you weren’t aware), which is home to several apple orchards. In addition to stocking up on apples, we will stuff ourselves with warm apple cider doughnuts and buy a gallon of cider to take home and make this apple cider cocktail. One of my favorites!
- Pack a fall picnic. There is something about having a picnic on a crisp fall day that is utterly charming. A plaid blanket and a thermos full of a hearty, soul-warming soup are essential!
- Read a scary or witchy novel. I love snuggling up with a good scary story this time of year. Some of my past October reads have been Dracula, Salem’s Lot, and the Dark Witch trilogy by Nora Roberts. This year it is Beneath a Blood Red Moon by Shannon Drake.
- Bake pumpkin bread. Such a delicious quick breakfast or afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is my favorite.
- Take walks in the crisp leaves. I love the sound of fallen leaves crunching under my feet!
- The smell of woodsmoke. As the evenings get chillier and people begin using their fireplaces and wood stoves again, the woodsy scent of smoke rising from the chimneys around the neighborhood evokes such a sense of warmth and coziness.
- Honor my ancestors. The timing of Halloween coincides with several ancient holidays and festivals which not only marked the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, but also served as an opportunity for people to remember ancestors and departed loved ones (The Day of the Dead in Mexico, All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Norse festival of Winternights). It was believed that the veil between the world of the living and the ancestral realm was particularly thin at this point in the year. Whether or not you believe there are thin places in the year in which we are closer to the spiritual realm, it is lovely to have a time set aside for honoring and remembering our ancestors. A great place to do this is in the kitchen, of course! This month I will make my dad’s famous pasta dish (simply known as “The Dish” at our house…it was that good) and my great-grandmother’s Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger snaps). Cooking and baking are tangible, delicious ways to connect with our ancestors.
- Let go of what no longer serves. I’m taking a cue from the falling leaves this month and letting go. Letting go of clutter, jewelry, clothes, shoes, books, ideas, beliefs, habits, relationships, commitments….ANYTHING that isn’t serving me. My very wise friend, Siobhan, who happens to be a very talented life coach, has proclaimed October the month of letting go. Why? In Siobhan’s words, “to create the space I need to be more ME.” YES. It’s amazing how both mental and physical clutter can stand in the way of our authenticity. And so I will clear out the closets and the garage. I will go through the kitchen cupboards and drawers. I will journal my way past beliefs and ideas that are no longer helpful. I feel lighter and more spacious just thinking about it!
- Watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Whether you have kids or not, you are never too old for this sweet little Halloween special.
A very happy October to you! I hope you find your own simple ways to make it special.