Thursday, October 30, 2003
The Mason Jars of the Soul 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
For many reasons, autumn is an especially wonderful time for blogging. Not that you would know it from my rather sparse posts of late (I'll get into that later), but the range of emotions elicited during this season somehow deserves to be preserved...blogs are the Mason Jars of the Soul.

How time flies! Here is a post from my old web journal, Unzen Koans, from this week in October of last year:
Perhaps it is the subtle chill and shift of light at the day's bookends that triggers the familiar feeling: autumn has arrived on dusty windswept leaves, freshly packed schoolbags and windshield dew. It is both a subtler and a more pervasive state than "being in the fall spirit" or preparing for Halloween or Thanksgiving, much more than pulling woolly sweaters from cedar chests or arranging gourds artfully on front steps.

The closest I can describe it is a change of emotive color or frequency: an internal Doppler shift, seeing the world through orange colored glasses. The horizon ahead is clear, shadows pull further along the ground undistorted by waves of summer heat arising from the beleaguered tarmac: it is the time of gathering, a harvest of friends and acquaintances. English momentarily fails to deliver the proper term, but Japanese culture has a word for the phenomenon - kisekan, or "seasonal feeling".

Kisekan is a full moon made of a sliced hard-boiled egg, sitting atop a warm bowl of udon, and a trompe-l'oeil "horsechestnut" created from a fried sweet-potato ball rolled in broken somen noodles. It is deep crimson origami paper with a gold plum blossom motif. It is looking longingly at a statue's silhouette while browning maple leaves flutter before the burning sun.

This is the ripening of the year, coming full-circle like the ouroboros snake swallowing its tail. Here are more of the elusive delights fall bringsā€¦

Buying bags of colorful dried beans and legumes at the local ethnic markets for homemade soup.

The soups made therefrom; Adirondack pea, monastery minestrone, daal soup, black bean and others.

Comfortable warm socks, and shoes that don't leak muddy water.

Making fresh pots of steaming green tea.

New jackets.

Weatherstripping windows and calling the air conditioners home.

Used-book stores filled with volumes I used to own as a kid, or always wanted to; the Hardy Boys Mysteries, Golden Science Guides, old horror novels and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks; The Devil's Triangle and Chariots of the Gods?

Japanese Nipponkodo or Indian Nag Champa incense roiling coils of smoke on top of a wooden bookshelf.

Watching old movies and TV shows on DVD because it's more fun to stay home.


Seeing the Chicago skyline in sharp, un-smoggy detail from our favorite beach just north of Loyola University in Rogers Park while sitting on the breakwater pier with a big cup of coffee, listening to the crashing grey-green waves of Lake Michigan.

Walking in Evanston just before going to the movies, pulling your collar up tight against the wind.

Listening to the wind howl through the 1920's steel-framed windows in my office, whistling as it passes over stone gargoyles' ears on the fifth floor.

Our neighborhoods coming alive as colleges and universities go back in session (yes, there is a difference, even in a city the size of Chicago).

Looking at childhood photo albums.

Fat candles with turned-down lips and deep pools of molten wax.

Waking up with your nose cold, hiding beneath a fluffy comforter, instead of coming to consciousness half-dehydrated in the sticky humidity of August.

The smell of hot coffee wafting slyly around the S-shaped curves of our apartment.

Autumn isn't an end, but a different kind of beginning; a season of which I never grow weary.
Aaaah. That feels much better.