While Spring is traditionally the time for nesting, at this autumnal moment in the calendar it seems apt to put some energy into our homes and to make ‘hibernation preparation’ so we can hunker down very cosily for winter. The sun is now casting light at a beautiful oblique slant, catching the world in new ways, the nights are drawing in and it’s cooling down out there. We now need to create our own light and heat, and perhaps in more than merely functional ways. It can be done with even the smallest of gestures, such as habitually lighting a candle when you sit down for a meal, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner time. By bringing a bit of ritual into the mix we can make something we do every day special.
Autumn has it’s own smells too that can be easily added to the autumn scene. Out with heady jasmin, honeysuckle and sweet pea and in with a bowl of harvested and dried lavender, or, if you have garden herbs that have gown prolifically in the summer and can be cut back, tie them in bundles to hang and dry out.
To really honour the turning season bring nature inside and make a shrine of sorts. You can use a few cuttings from a shrub or tree where the leaves are changing colour and either put them in a vase or lay them simply across the centre of a table. To work at a smaller scale gather a few vibrantly-coloured leaves instead and place a few acorns, chestnuts, pine cones, or whatever you can find around them. Your still life of autumnal objects (add some of those herb sprigs here too if you like), will inspire moments of reflection and celebration.
Rooms can be dressed for winter too, or at least the scene can be set in readiness. I’ve put a cosy blanket over the back of the sofa in anticipation of when I finally feel the evening chill. While it might still be purely decorative to also have one on a bed, you’ll be thankful for it on that night when the temperature makes an unexpected drop. I find nesting isn’t just about gathering things, but also making space. Not necessarily by throwing away unwanted things, but rearranging. It could be a corner of a room or reconfiguring a set of pictures or ornaments. Shift the hierarchy and bring new things to the fore to reconnect with the stories our possession tell, to relive fond memories and feel grounded.
For some even further forward planning, now is the time to prepare not only for winter but to set in motion next spring’s blooms by planting bulbs in the garden, or in pots on a balcony. New daffodil, crocus and hyacinth bulbs should be planted ideally by the end of the month. I always find this process very meditative and calming, knowing I’m putting in a small effort now and storing up some delayed gratification.
Yes, to make an effort is a great spirit lifter. So, let’s lay tables as though we’re expecting our most honoured guests (bring out the candlesticks and press the napkins and tablecloths!) and, even lay the table for the next morning’s breakfast the night before. If you’re cooking regularly just for yourself, remember that you’re worth making a restaurant-quality three-course meal for and become your own special guest! And sometimes it’s the smallest efforts that have the broadest of impacts. One tactic I have is to wear a particular pair of earrings that chink very gently as I and they move. It’s like having my own invisible and magical Tinkerbell as my sidekick. I know it’s a bit ridiculous, but that’s partly the point! Whatever it takes to find and create moments of delight, surprise and connection. What will you do to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary?