Without a doubt, autumn is the season I love best, and there’s something about October that’s just better than September. Don’t get me wrong; September is quite lovely, with clear azure skies and garden blooms giving way to fields of goldenrod and purple and white asters. But, as far as I’m concerned, most of that month is too much like August. After all, the equinox doesn’t occur until its third week, summer’s heat often clings with sweaty hands beyond the official start of Fall, and leaves don’t yet know whether they want to stay green or go out in a blaze of glory. October, on the other hand, is more decisive about its status as the All-Autumn-All-the-Time Channel.
In October, we’ll still have our share of warm, dry weather and cool evenings when a hoodie or knitted shawl seems like a good idea. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated next weekend, and we all know what happens at the end of the month! But I also welcome October’s occasional moodiness: soft grey skies and the “Scotch mist” which laid a fine veil of gems across my windshield yesterday; the sharp tang of woodsmoke in the air; night fog looming like ectoplasm over creeks and damp meadows. More than the season’s showy reds, ambers, greens and golds, it’s the overall turning-inwardness we experience as the days shorten and the world of candlelight and shadow draws near that I find comforting, mysterious and quite wonderful.
I have many ideas for autumn- and October-related posts which I’ll be sharing over the next weeks. Since this is the month of Hallowe’en and Samhain, I’m feeling particularly witchy (in all the right ways), so I’ll be talking about seasonal traditions, homemade brews and concoctions, herbal and apothecary lore, and old-time folk remedies geared especially for the upcoming cold and flu season.
Speaking of which, I greeted October, unfortunately, with a head cold. So today, to help clear my sinuses and impart my home with an autumnal air, I put on a pot of warm simmering spices. This easy home fragrance method has been around for years and beats using expensive, chemical-laden scented candles; not only is it delightfully fragrant, it helps humidify your home during the dry, colder months. Plus, there’s no need to go out and buy special ingredients. Just use whatever combination of fruits (fresh or dried slices or skins) you have on hand and whole or ground herbs and spices which a-peel to you, and don’t worry about exact measurements. With elements such as oranges, lemons, apples, cloves and cinnamon, you really can’t go wrong!
To Make Simmering Spices: Fill a small pot with water, bring to a boil on the stove, add your ingredients and boil for a couple minutes more. Reduce heat and let pot gently simmer, uncovered, for as long as you like. Set a timer to check the water level every 30 minutes, topping up as needed. You can also set the pot to steam away on a woodstove or radiator; some recipes call for a crockpot. Keep children and pets away from the stove and pot, and turn off the heat if you leave the house. Simmering spices are for home fragrance only; do not ingest.Today’s Recipe: Spiced Lemon & Ginger Simmering Pot
This zesty combination of fruits and ginger will help relieve those stuffed-up noses in no time!
- A few slices each of apple and lemon (fresh or dried); I used some that had been in the fridge for a while – a good way to use up past-its-best fruit
- 2 – 3 small slices fresh ginger root
- 1 – 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
- 10 whole allspice (optional)
- 3 whole star anise (optional)
More autumn-inspired simmering pot recipes to come. In the meantime, try your own combinations, and if you have a favourite recipe, feel free to share it in a comment. Enjoy the bountiful scents of the season!