Fall is a calming season. I’ve always thought of it as a time where it’s finally possible to take a deep breath – after the air gets cooler, everyone slows down, and the energy ebbs away after the bright loud summer. It’s always been a quiet season, and a restful one, but also one that provides an excuse for really great things to do, see, eat, and read. So while there’s still a month of it left, go get a pumpkin spice latte, put on a scarf and a cardigan, and conquer the following checklist!
Eating & Drinking
For those of us who like warm drinks, fall is a blessing. We revert back to the standard, non-iced versions of tea and coffee. This is a great time to learn how to make both really well. And in preparation for the Christmas season, I think it’s okay to begin practicing mulled wine as well.
– French press coffee. Four tablespoons of coffee per 200 ml of water, just under boiling. Stir and cover for 4 minutes. These proportions have a huge effect on the taste of the drink. Use good beans as well: the very dark Starbucks French Roast is perfect for a crisp morning.
– Loose leaf tea. There’s something about both Earl Gray and spiced Chai tea for fall which is irresistible. Buy both looseleaf, use 1.5 tsp per 200 ml of water, also just under boiling, for 5 minutes. Rooibos is my favourite non-caffeinated option because it still has a distinct grassy and woodsy aroma. I picked up a tip about sweeteners on my trip to Ukraine this summer: while honey is good for you and good as a sweetener, it loses its natural benefits when it’s dissolved in hot liquid. Instead, drink your tea straight, and have a small dish of honey with a teaspoon as a sort of “chaser.” Not only is it delicious but it makes for some great table setting!
– Mulled wine. It’s hard to go wrong with hot spiced wine. It’ll likely be good regardless of the recipe you use. However, here is the ultimate combination: port wine, cinnamon, and ginger, with a few lemon and orange slices. Heat all the ingredients up in a small saucepan until the mixture just reaches the boiling point, then serve immediately. Benefits: delicious, looks lovely in a clear glass, will not let you catch a cold, will be better than any sleeping pill you have ever taken. Can be dissolved with a bit of water – especially if you’re going for the sticky-sweet port wine option.
Honorable mentions go to any food and drink recipes with apples, pumpkins, and cranberries… I could really go on forever.
This season is also the academic’s New Year, which provides great learning opportunities for the rest of us. These three months just seem right for visiting museums and art galleries. In my area, I’m excited to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario Friday & Diego exhibition (passion, politics, and painting). Frida Kahlo always fascinated me as a painter and a woman, and the art of her husband Diego Rivera complements her work in honesty while contrasting it in focus. She painted her own world, he painted the world they lived in, and the curated exhibit promises to be insightful as well as educational.
Fall is a time for film, too. With the Academy Awards in February, the best movies are often released between September and January. The Toronto International Film Festival is over but we have wide releases to look forward to: Hyde Park on Hudson, Anna Karenina, Lincoln, Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby… So many movies to anticipate!
The colours of fall make the season a happy one. There is no better day than a bright sunny one, with crisp temperatures, and lots of bright leaves on the sidewalks and trees. I loved pressing leaves in the fall, so much that I still sometimes open old books and have maple leafs fall out to cover my floor – from a year, two or three ago. I never realized that leaves can also be waxed for better preservation – Conrad Black explains.
Of course, fall is for reading. No pleasure more simple than a book, blanket, and cup of tea on a rainy fall evening. There is a subset of good books that I believe were written with the express purpose of being read of rainy evenings. Here’s a small sample, all from my favourites bookshelf:
– Perfume by Patrick Suskind
– One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
– The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox (this one must be read on a rainy day, it’s practically a requirement)
– The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (which has an average score of 4.19 on Goodreads – a rare thing)
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I hope you enjoy the remaining month of the season. I’d love to hear your contributions to the list above!