A Tumble of Loss and Beauty

(Image credit: Dana Velden)

It’s the first Sunday of November and ah, it’s been quite the week. So long, Lou Reed. So long, evening sun. So long, (this is for real now) tomatoes and eggplant. So long, clever and scary Halloween costumes. Goodbye Día de los Muertos sugar skulls and flickering, candlelit street altars. Hello bare branches and leaf-clogged gutters and cold foggy mornings. Hello roots and squash and garlic. Hello old sweaters and thick, wooly socks. Welcome, ‘these dark days of autumn rain … as beautiful as days can be.’ Welcome, November, and the comforts you inspire.

Comfort me with soups, with bowls of steaming noodles and spice, bowls of slow-cooked beans with shreds of pork and chunks of sweet potatoes. Comfort me with salty miso broth, with rice cooked in chicken stock and chilies, with thick stews made with oxtails and red wine and lots of garlic. Comfort me with an oven-warmed kitchen and the smell of slow-roasting onions and thyme and the solace of cupboards and freezer well-stocked with the harvest’s overflow.

Comfort me, too, with plans of the grand feast to come: the turkey’s weight calculated again and again just to be sure, the old, once-a-year recipes dug out and considered (and briefly rejected as too old-fashioned only to be rescued in a burst of sentimental longing.) And it’s not too early anymore to dream even further. To consider gingerbread tiles coating in transparent white icing and fruit cakes and mince pies, to sling an extra sack of flour into the shopping cart and remember to buy the marzipan.

The gifts of November are found in contrasts and comforts. A tree bare of leaves but dotted with ripe persimmons; a pile of gourds and squash made vibrant and glistening with rain; the end of the harvest ushering in the beginning of the feasting season. Beauty, loss, warmth, sustenance, the grief of endings all tumbled together. Don’t separate them out. Find instead the strength to hold it all, knowing that it would be impossible anyway, to undo their beautiful, tangled alliance.

For further inspiration, a tumble of links, poems and of course, Lou Reed: