“Are we to look at cherry blossoms only when in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blind and be unaware of the passing of spring – these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to bloom or gardens strewn with faded flowers are worthier of our admiration….In all things, it is the beginnings and endings that are interesting.” Yoshida Kenko (born c. 1283, Kyōto?—died c. 1350/52, near Kyōto?)
Like Yoshida Kenko’s keen observations about observing the transient beauty of nature, I like the days between the going and coming of the seasons. Lately, here in my corner of New England, these days are neither summer nor fall, but combinations of warm sunshine during the day and crisp, cool nights. This transition provides us with visual reminders that another turn of the wheel in the cycle of the seasons is upon us. At my local farmstand, I find the last watermelons displayed next to a basket of the first just-picked apples.The trees on my street are beginning to drop their leaves, littering neighborhood lawns and the street with colorful, parchment-like leaves. Grasses and tall weeds in the fields surrounding our house, once vibrant and green, are thinning and turning yellow. Corn fields are being cleared and flocks of migrating geese have replaced the squabbling hummingbirds. Pumpkin patches are being emptied and these colorful symbols of autumn are re-appearing on doorsteps and porches. Seed heads are forming where flowers once were, and, suddenly, the annual fall foliage spectacular in New England is underway.
This time of year I enjoy watching neighborhood squirrels scamper across our lawn, each of them carrying an impossibly large horse chestnut gleaned from a cache of nuts festooning the roadside just past our house. Sensing the impending change of season, these hard-working little animals scamper about with a heightened sense of urgency, each of them seemingly intent on finding the perfect burying place for storing their bounty of nuts. While they work diligently, I chuckle knowing that I will find horse chestnuts popping out of my flower beds and lawn next spring.
Similarly, on a morning stroll through nearby Amherst College campus, resident squirrels run hastily past me with acorns that have fallen plop, plop, plop from towering old oak trees. I often wonder if any of these nuts will be dug later by the squirrel who planted them. Or if nut-planting is a communal effort with the end result being that the nut goes to whichever squirrel later finds it. These industrious creatures seem hard-wired to plant as many nuts as possible, plain and simple, and I admire their individual efforts on behalf of the greater resident community.
Similarly, for we humans there is much to do now to prepare for fall and winter. We begin gathering winter-keeping foods such as locally-grown varieties of squash and potatoes and other necessities now in anticipation of the cold, dark winter months that lie ahead.
In our tea store we notice that our customers are purchasing more black, oolong and Pu-erh teas. As with food choices and other drinks we crave in hot weather/cold weather, our taste buds respond to the needs of our bodies according to the season. Dark tea for the dark season makes perfect sense.
Like the busy squirrels, we have been packing tea into our shop in advance of the cold months and the busy holiday season. (While we do not bury our tea, we are putting some tea aside to age……more on that in a month or so). Our supplies of black, oolong and Pu-erh teas are ample and we are happy with both the quality and the quantity of what we have. Our latest additions are:
Also, we will be re-roasting some of our oolongs soon and will post those selections online as soon as they are ready.
Our China Yixing and Japan Tokoname teapots are in good supply, too. We are now photographing a stunning collection of one-of-a-kind Tokoname teapots that will be available on our website early in November. All of the artisan Tokoname teapots that we received in our July shipment sold quickly, so we anticipate a swift response to these new teapots. Remember that it is not too soon to begin thinking about the right tea gift for the tea enthusiast on your holiday gift-giving list.
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