Nurturing Autumn Rituals


Happy Friday, my friend.

Fall is solidly in the air most places by now. I’ve never known someone who didn’t love the fall season – even summer zealots mourning the end of the hot season seem to come around with their first glimpse of illuminating yellows, golds and reds. Who’d dare argue with how unapologetically cheerful they are – and I’m glad they are – as they escort us around the corner to winter’s cold darkness and bare landscape. This George Eliot passage says it all:

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

I love this turning of the tide. It feels important and necessary and unavoidable. Taking nature’s cues to slow down and rest makes space for delicious self-nurturing and all the particulars of how we tune in to our senses this time of year. It doesn’t take long to see the sweet return of some of my favorite self-care rituals. Here are a few:

In-home scents: My ” target=”_blank”>diffuser and immune-boosting essential oils have a more or less constant presence on the kitchen counter this time of year. It’s even more of a pleasure to be in the kitchen with these calming aromas. Thieves, a Young Living therapeutic grade essential oil, is a powerful anti-viral/anti-bacterial that I turn to after I’ve been grocery shopping or out in public. I absolutely adore the scent of Geranium, for its feminine essence and boost of harmony (who doesn’t need more harmony?). I add a drop or two of this Orange oil to warm beverages and warm facial compresses before bed.

Skin restoration: I love this company. Their handcrafted botanical skin care products rejuvenate my skin after a summer of drying sunscreen applications. Between midlife skin dryness and high altitude sun exposure, finding moisturizers that last longer than an hour has been challenging. I’m so glad I found these. I especially like the Overnight Face Cream and Botanical Eye Treatment for the sensitive (ie. first to wrinkle) skin around my eyes and mouth. I’m about half-way through my first bottle of this Warming Body Oil and love to place three or four drops on my neck throughout the day. Plant-based and animal-friendly products from an earth conscious company.

Lights: Around the world, people brighten up their homes with lights in the dark months. Lights are central to the concept of hygge. Scandinavians are known for their candle usage, and I’m with them. The flicker of a candle or of fire in the fireplace mesmerizes and relaxes. Even our gas fireplaces do the trick. I like to place strings of lights like these on the mantle, weave them through my potted plants, or hang them loosely above the bed.

Food: Baking and soups, right? I start all of my soups with this broth. For too many decades I used store-bought broth in my soups. Can you relate? If you do, I urge you to stop – really, promise me you will – and begin making your own broth at home. If not for the many nutritional reasons, then for the taste alone. It’s so easy and I promise you you’ll never turn back.

The turn of the corner into autumn calls for an orange or yellow soup to fill our bowls. One of my favorites is this beautiful carrot soup from 101 Cookbooks. Heidi’s frequent additions of edible flowers and dainty unique micro greens are impossible for me to find in our small town but I always turn to her cookbooks when I want whole-food ingredients with a multicultural flare.

Another one of my favorite fall soups could be called dessert. It’s so good.

If you’re vegan or, like me, you’re in the mood for baking up healthy versions with all the same autumn spice deliciousness, try these pumpkin cookies with spiced buttercream. Arrange on a plate and curl up with a cup of this rich apple cider or a mug of this pumpkin spice latte or this authentic Indian chai tea.

Yoga: I naturally turn to yoga – as opposed to going for a run through the dark streets – when early mornings are dark and I want to exercise before the kids get up. Last year I found this yoga series, a 30-day challenge that starts with foundational poses and builds from there with many poses I hadn’t seen before. In the many years (I may be an expert amateur by now) of doing yoga videos, Jess Timsit is by far one of my favorites. Her flexibility is impressive but not intimidating. She’s so nice! And she offers options for inflexible people like me. If for no other reason check it out to see her cute outfits.

Sleep: Flannel sheets.

More on autumn from readers:

Rosie says: “I like Pioneer Woman-inspired soups, like hamburger soup. I also mix it up based on what comes in my CSA and sometimes make Thai-inspired soups with coconut milk, like cauliflower rice curry.

Katya says: As soon as it cools down, my crockpot gets loaded up with soups or casseroles for dinner. The kids go to bed earlier which leaves me time for new projects or reading, always with a mug of tea and a soft throw. I deep clean and purge the house and decorate with nature. I make bucket lists of places to visit and things I want to learn during the winter. Hot water soaks and oils for my nails. And fashion, because layering your clothes is an art.

From Nancy: I think of harvesting the garden and putting it to bed until spring. Of sitting in front of the fire, reading, dreaming, and dozing. Falling asleep earlier, and waking earlier – surrendering and moving into the natural rhythms of the earth. Taking stock of where I find myself at this changing of the season. My first baking of my favorite gingerbread. Savoring the fresh, crisp air during autumn walks in the woods. In autumn, I feel the impermanence of all things, as well as great inner joy and gratitude, and the privilege of being alive on this earth.

Kati says: Honestly I couldn’t wait for it to cool down so I could start taking my newborn out for walks in the stroller with my toddler following with his balance bike. I start up our fireplace and lots and lots of tea and coffee alternatives with pies and cakes.

From Haley: Teas, fires, baking, and journaling.

Bonnie says: This is the time of year our family makes apple butter using a 50-gallon copper kettle over an open fire. The relatives gather from surrounding states to sit in my brother’s woods and spend all day together taking turns stirring the cider and cut apples for 6-8 hours. Many stories were shared as we all sat around the beautiful fire with the kettle boiling above it…taking turns stirring with the 6 foot paddle made by some clever relative.

What are your favorite fall rituals?

Have a wonderful weekend.


  • Reply Nancy Ferrell October 17, 2020 at 12:39 am

    Loved this posting, Kate…
    Thanks for sharing so many wonderful ideas! I’m getting my candles out and buying the little lights. Also, adding to my essential oils! Wishing you a serene, warm, fragrant, delicious, restful autumn…Nancy

    • Reply Kate Gales October 17, 2020 at 4:09 pm

      Thank you! Glad you liked the ideas. Let me know if you have any others you fall in love with.

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