Squirrels abound in the autumn months, searching for buried treasure under oak trees. Bears fill up on deer and fish, readying their bodies for a long winter's nap. Animals know that fall is a time for preparation, when harvest comes to a close and winter's chill approaches. They seek out nourishment, collect food for the long winter to come.
We human animals have long forgotten what it means to rest and nourish the body and soul. Modern life has taken from us the rhythms of the seasons, of sunup and sundown. Instead of resting during the dark months, we trudge on, up the ladder, through the walls, in spite of our bodies begging us to slow down, pause, to stop.
While most of us can't make our own schedules, we can make changes that will help us take back, bit by bit, the natural way of things. The way our bodies, on a primitive level, need, long for, and desire.
Over the past few years, I've been researching slower cultures. There is no perfect place on this planet, this is a fact. But I believe that older (and wiser) cultures, which have the benefit of thousands of years of trial and error, have a lot to teach our young and perilously impressionable nation. As an amateur (and hopefully, one day, professional) cultural anthropologist, I am fascinated by every culture, moved by some ritual or some tradition that seems to project a slower, gentler time. They can all teach us something valuable about live, about ourselves. But the one culture that has resonated with me is that of Europe, especially of the United Kingdom, France and Italy. I love the rural countrysides, the old-world cities, the accents and whirlwind of the old colliding with the new. But what really has captured my attention is their culture that revolves around food.
I've been wanting to do a series centered around food and culture for quite some time now. What better time to begin the slow resurrection of the senses than autumn? Especially with Thanksgiving two weeks away and Christmas around the bend. I have grown weary of fast food, thirty minute lunch breaks and haste in every aspect of our day to day lives. I know there are things that must be done, I understand that we can't all determine our own hours. But what we can do is take the time to prioritize and make an effort to better fuel our bodies while also fueling our souls. I hope you'll join me as I ramble through the woods and fields, the farms and villas of an old world that has captured my imagination and my heart. I hope to do them justice. I hope to learn from them and integrate traditions and menus into my own, harried life. And I hope to have some friends along for the ride :)
Do you have any "slow down" traditions of your own? Have you, too, felt a tugging in your soul to slow down and rest, to follow the rhythms of the natural world? What have you done to rejuvenate your own weary body and mind? I'd love to hear from you on this!
*Click on photo for original location and photographer credit*