(ceremony, observance, ritualistic)
Noun: a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a service of actions, performed according to a prescribed order.
Adjective: of, relating to, or done as a religious or solemn rite.
Sat cosily in my favourite place, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on a chilly Autumn morning, hugging a hot drink…my mind wanders to Autumn/Winter. To cold walks wrapped up in heavy coats, boots, hats and scarves. To frosty mornings, getting caught in the rain, coming in after work to a warm house and preparing a hearty meal. To the festivities around Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Xmas. I have always been in love with this time of year. Spring and Summer don’t hold a candle to the memories, promise and comfort I find in our colder seasons.
While some view the loss of summer as a ‘death’ and mourn the long, balmy days, cool linens, sun drenched skin…I see beautiful colours, harvests, plants conserving their energy and changing their form during winter. Their showy green leaves gone, and their delicate, dark limbs saturated in rain, sparkling in frost or heavily laden with snow. I prefer my wardrobe at this time of year, layers and textures which speak to me. Drapes of velvet, silk, heavy wools, leather, suede. Embroidery, brocade, layered lace, rows of decorative buttons, heavy metallic zips.
There are several rituals I choose to observe this time of the year, some consciously, others by habit.
Autumn is a time for planning, for reviewing your year and whether it has delivered everything you wanted. I feel a surge of inspiration, which is great for starting projects, or revisiting neglected ones. I want to ‘do’, to create, to make, to write, cook, read… There are traditions, some are long-standing with my family, others are newer. I believe there’s room for creating new ‘traditions’, as a desire to recreate that same event/activity in the future.
As I look around me, I see tables full of people. A couple who look like Mother and Daughter, sat quietly sipping tea, people watching. A couple of tourists, absorbing the detail around them, excited when their order arrives and chatting quickly to one another. On another two tables, men sitting alone, enveloped in their books, tearing themselves away only for a flat white and eggs royale.
The decor is familiar, with it’s mismatching furniture, tables wearing floral skirts, with jars of pretty flowers atop. Corners with armchairs, sofas and floor standing lamps wearing their hats. Glass domes cover an array of cakes lined up across the bar, some from your childhood and some new, incredibly beautiful creations. I notice no one is on their phone, no one is using any technology, instead we are all mindful in our experiences.
For me, this is key to a ritual. A sense of immersing yourself in it and taking time to savour. I think about the people I’ve brought here. Loved ones, family and friends. People I care about and want to share it with, and just as many times on my own. Bustling tables of shared conversation, forks in other peoples food versus a more reflective, self indulgent time.
Food has a nostalgic power unlike anything else.
The scent of something freshly baked, cooking in the oven or feel of it under our fork can be very powerful.
The foods I long for are those that filled Autumn days and nights as a child. All homemade. Soups, pasta bakes, cottage pie, really good beans on toast, eggs….any eggs to be honest, whether it’s an omelette, boiled egg and soldiers or poached eggs, custard tarts, sponge sandwiches, fruit cake, scones and biscuits. There is a ritual around sitting and sharing food you have poured love into with others. Taking time away from your busy days and just doing that.
Making plans for the rest of the year is made all the easier, by my senses being happy. This regular ritual of time alone to think and plan, literally feeds a broader ritual of stimulating my creative brain through nostalgia. One many would be wise to indulge….