autumn

BREATHING IN COLOR

 
Apple Orchard Ohio Organic Image by Samantha Spigos
Mushroom Natural Color Image by Samantha Spigos

Earlier in the Fall I picked up a book from the library for no reason other than the book jacket was covered in illustrated confetti, and I liked how it made me feel. What else are book covers for if not to be judged? The first chapter dove into how color impacts the human brain, and how we can take notice of it. For someone who considers herself attuned to the world around her, I sure had written off most colors. Suddenly, fuchsia made me feel happy, and golden ochres and caramels were all I wanted to wear. I picked out a red gingham apron with someone’s hand stitching on it at the antique shop, and when I wear it, I feel as if I’m donning a cape. I still love our calm and quiet bedroom, but now I understand that I gaze at the still-life painting above Rosemary’s changing table because the colors are invigorating and inviting. Simply put, it makes me feel good. Color is healing and life-giving. Our prehistoric ancestors understood that bright food indicated energy, and so our brains have been wired to be positively inclined towards color for its life-giving potential. (Something like that.) Taking notice of how color impacts my mental state was preparation for this season of hardship and healing. More on that.

Natural Dyed Wool Christmas Stocking Image by Samantha Spigos
Natural Dyed Wool Christmas Stocking Image by Samantha Spigos
Plants Are Family Print by The Far Woods Image by Samantha Spigos
Rainbow Soup by Brown Parcel Press and Sugarhouse Workshop Image by Samantha Spigos

Just a few months into the year, I sent a note to a woman named Jessica. Among other things, she makes quilts. She derives natural color from the plants and minerals that grow around her Vermont homestead, and uses those colors to dye cotton, silk, linen and wool. With a palette too beautiful to overstate, she makes quilts that are at once simple, and on the other hand deep and rich. It’s as though she grows her quilts like a plant from seed, watering and watching, but ultimately allowing it to grow on its own. Her quilts are agrarian by nature—a snapshot of the place, the plants, and the season. Naturally, I desired for Rosemary to have a piece of Jessica’s craft. That dream is coming true, and soon our little bunny will have her very own quilt. What I did not anticipate was the gentle, slow growing friendship between she and I. In a season of life that has not been without heartbreak and grieving — personally and especially worldwide — it feels ever more essential to rest in friendships; to work for justice while loving our families tenderly; to take notice of the color around us if for no other reason than because it’s beautiful. It might just be healing.

Native American Dent Corn Natural Color Image by Samantha Spigos

For the inquisitive . . .

+ The book that helped me love fuchsia.
+ Rainbow Soup, a set of four playful prints paying homage to natural color and quilting.
+ More about Jessica / Sugarhouse Workshop.
+ Plants Are Family print by two sisters working for justice and teaching us how to darn socks.
+ The knitting pictured above is my progress on Rosemary’s Christmas stocking, which I’m sharing about on Instagram using #RosemaryStocking. The red and green yarn is Wing and a Prayer Farm’s natural dyed (!) wool.
+ Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 6th! (Find your voter polling place here.)


—S

WORTH THE READ

 
Knitting Wool Dala Horse Baby Hat by Samantha Spigos

Surely the changing of leaves and temperatures is indicative of a season for change in us, as well. Enough consistent years of change in this very season of the year have led me to conclude that there is, indeed, an Autumn in all of our inner lives, too. Maybe it’s a vestige of schooling, or a result of the moon lingering longer every night but, at any rate, we’ve come to expect it. This go ‘round, I am consciously trying to surrender to the change and let it wash over our family. In reality, while it sounds flowery and metaphorical, seasons of change are usually unceremonious and unpretty; less like gentle moonlight and more like a flaming ball of fire. So, in an effort to focus on What Needs Tending (namely, finishing Rosie’s winter hat and praying to my favorite saints), I am leaving you with a few links that have been fuel for me, and are very worth the read.


For the inquisitive . . .

+ Take your medicine. If you read nothing else today, read this.
+ “We’ve walked miles in tiny bursts…” (I am excited to share more soon about the mother of this family.)
+ A fellow Ohioan moves to Denmark and falls in love with it through food. Enjoy this visual feast.
+
Salt of the earth.
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For the fiber inclined, shave ‘em to save ‘em.
+
Makers of the world’s best mug and deliverers of poetry-filled emails.


—S

THE ABUNDANCE IN UNKNOWING

 
Abundance Surrounds Us Foraged Mushroom Photo by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Cloth Diaper Baby by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Mother Daughter by Samantha Spigos

There's a Hungarian bakery in the neighboring town. It serves as the one and only place Mark and I have gone on a "date" since having a baby, and in fact the baby has joined us on both such dates. We head there for poppyseed strudel and cappuccinos. If we're being honest with ourselves, the cappuccinos we make at home are superior, and we are decidedly Bagel People. That's not why we go. We go to dream up the fields and forest of our someday land. We go to listen to the ramblings and visions of the other. We go to say Yes to a dream of a pink plaster kitchen (mine) and of growing a plot of wheat just to make a single loaf of bread (his). We go to see each other with fresh eyes. We leave deeming that This is Our Year, and it always is! When we get home—and this is the important part—the very spot we’re in feels brighter.

I admire the thick, worn lines of the kitchen. How they are precise and chaotic, all at once, I cannot say. After a year, and after dozens of loaves of bread, I finally understand the oven and where her hot spots live (right side, towards the front). I tell myself I could live here forever; I might never be ready to leave the room where my baby was born. And yet . . . and yet. What I desire in that deep, unquenchable way — I think it’s called a calling — is not here. We don’t know where it is, and that’s OK. As the weather turns, and I feel myself inhaling the crisp air I long for all summer long, I am resting in the OK-ness of not knowing. For eight months I have been learning how to be a new person; a person I never knew before. To put it far too simply, there has been much to discover and uncover. I am still a brand new woman, reborn in motherhood and learning through immersion. It’s clear that ours is a life with a slow unfolding. For now, baby; For then, farm. A divine hand is happily at work, this I know. The land and farm we desire is yet unknown, but the life we desire is the very one we’re living. Fancy that.

Abundance Surrounds Us Fall Donuts County Fair by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Sourdough and Organic Tomatoes by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Seasonal Flower Bouquet Dahlias Zinnias by Samantha Spigos

In other news. . .

I recently had an essay of creative nonfiction published in Taproot Magazine, titled “Cattail Day”. It was my first piece of writing published in print, and I am still overjoyed that it was included. If you are inclined to my style of writing, you will probably enjoy every piece in Taproot. I hoped to include a link for purchase, if you were interested, but I see that the issue that includes my essay is sold out! An excerpt from “Cattail Day”:

“More than twenty years later,

I anticipate the day I can welcome my own daughter into the magic of unknowing,

the sort that beckons even adults to enter into the mystery of Wonder.”


—S

PHOTOS FROM AFIELD | OHIO AUTUMN

 
vegetable broth
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bouts
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During our time as Instagram-aholics, it was common practice to fall asleep while scrolling through our own profiles, mindlessly scanning the same photos over and over and over again on small, illuminated screens. Engaging in social media definitely made us more savvy with cameras; maybe we even saw the world with more of an artistic eye. No two ways about it—our camera rolls are chock full of accidental photos of our feet and dimly lit shots of our cat looking ugly. But we read before bed now so, in the grand scheme of things, a junky photo roll ain't so bad. (Sam is reading Mary Poppins, and Mark 1Q84. One of us has pregnancy brain and thus appreciates a book written for small children.)

This collection of photos, taken in Autumn, comes from our phones and proves (to us, at least) that not all artistry is lost in a sans-social media life. Here's a bit of what we've been up to, really:

Leaning deeply into becoming Ohio people. She grows the baby and knits for shim, he does the odd jobs: tending bar at one uncle's island restaurant, re-seeding another uncle's lawn, changing fuses on the archaic fusebox at Grandma's House. We have logged thousands of miles in our aging Subaru driving around the state for work and for school and for play. Columbus boasts family time, old haunts, and illuminating & introspective lessons courtesy of Farm School. (It's been fun—oddly romantic, even—to exercise our academic muscles together, while doing A Very Adult Thing in writing a business plan for our future farm.) Cleveland offers fresh bagels, Thai food, our sisters, and the chance to remark on how there are young people everywhere. It's enlivening! In what is surely an effort to reacquaint ourselves with this mighty state, we hike—slowly, so slowly—around the preserves and wild spaces of our state. So far Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Holmes County have inspired us most acutely, illuminating our proclivity for rolling hills. (Note to selves: find and buy the farm on rolling land.) 

Some days, it feels as though we've been swept up in a leaf storm—pulled in different directions, quite literally, and trying to get our bearings about us. But sometimes the crisp autumn air stills itself, and we can see clearly just how blessed we are to be home again. 

7 months
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—M&S