All the seasonal farming metaphors are true. Perhaps cliché, but true. A seed is doing a lot of work underneath the soil before you actually see it sprouting. Weeds really should be pulled when they’re tiny sprouts and before they’re huge burdens that throw your back out. And the fresh canvas we get in the fall is an absolute necessity.
While farming in summer here in middle Tennessee was all about the physical exertion and stamina in the heat, persevering through bugs and pests and challenges of delicate crops, fall is when we turn over the beds for new plantings and start fresh.
We farm organically, so instead of spraying our field, we use a system of thick tarps in the summer to cover areas with grass, weeds, and crazy crabgrass that needs to be choked out so we can plant something fresh in that soil. While it’s being covered, lots of beneficial organisms are doing their good work underneath. In the fall, we give our fields more breathing room, removing the tarps to reveal richer soil beneath. Our lettuce gets to come out from hiding under the shade fabric that was protecting it from scorching summer sun and the lack of rain we’ve had for months.
But what makes us unique from other farmers is that fall is also the most demanding season on our schedules since it’s when we host the bulk of our private and public farm dinners. At the end of October, we’ll be hosting 150 guests for a multiple-course fall-inspired feast at a long table in our top meadow. And we have several private dinners this fall, both on the farm and in people’s homes, so almost every weekend is full.
Fall is the perfect time to revamp and reinvest in some self-care. Because we’re entering such a demanding season for our schedules, self-care is that much more important—it greatly contributes to how well we actually manage a full schedule.
“If we make room in our lives for this broader definition of self-care and accept that it is not a distraction from but a contributor to our success, we’ll be one step closer to escaping the busy vortex.”
I know fall can feel like a “busy vortex” for many of us, with back-to-school, kids’ sports schedules, or work events. (I share more about the word “busy” and ways I manage a demanding fall schedule on the Simple podcast with Tsh this Friday.)
But ultimately, we’re in control of how we handle it. Author and podcaster Sally Clarkson says:
“A wise woman takes care of her soul. And we do have agency. We have the ability to cultivate joy, to cultivate delight, to light a candle in our darkness so we can stay alive. We have the ability to roll up our sleeves and write a great story.”
No one is going to take care of ourselves the way we can, and it’s our responsibility to both literally and figuratively “light our candle.”
Here are some ideas for nourishing our bodies and souls this fall:
Moisturize dry locks.
Since my long, curly hair is literally fried from working outside all summer, I need some serious deep conditioning. Here are a few of my favorite products, but if you have any new ones to share, I’m all ears!
Make new flower arrangements.
One of my greatest joys this year has been growing 100 feet of zinnias that are still going strong after being planted in early spring. I’ve taken approximately 8,000 photos of them without apology. Just for fun this fall, I’m trying something new with my flower bouquets for the farm store and arranging them in ombré bouquets in fall colors. I’m also growing some unique mocha-colored branching sunflowers that will keep blooming all through the autumn and will be perfect for bouquets on the tables at the fall farm dinner.
Put comfort foods on rotation.
I love anything and everything I’ve made from fellow farmer Andrea Bemis’ site, Dishing Up The Dirt. She taught me to use garbanzo beans and tahini in new, delicious ways. Here are a few other fall staples:
Easiest Homemade Bread Recipe—I promise you can do this! Crunchy crust and chewy insides—it’s perfect.
Rosemary Almond Meal Biscuits—I’ve made these for years. These are for you if you’re gluten-free or grain-free and just need a fluffy, satisfying biscuit.
Butternut Chili—This recipe is from The Gluten-Free Goddess, one of the first food blogs I ever read at the beginning of blogdom. I love all of her recipes.
My favorite creamy tomato soup—here’s the recipe on my old vintage blog from 2009. You’re welcome. I made this long before I had children, but now my girls both beg for it with chunks of the aforementioned hot, homemade bread. This is in our weekly rotation during soup season.
I also like playing with ingredients and putting a slight fallish spin on them, like adding a heavy sprinkle of cinnamon to sauteed or baked sweet potatoes or squash, drinking fall-spiced rooibos tea, and adding a generous handful of chopped herbs to my bread dough.
Get lost in an epic novel.
I just finished Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane, and the next book of hers on my docket is The Great Alone. I always end up bawling my eyes out at 2 am reading her novels. (If you haven’t yet read The Nightingale, you must!) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is also on my list.
Light a new candle.
I’m so sensitive to scents, so when I find a candle I really love, I just want to buy several of them to last throughout the season. This Cardamom & Vetiver candle from Hearth & Hand is my favorite right now.
Deep dive into a new music artist.
I’ve gone down the Sleeping At Last rabbit hole, and I’m not coming out anytime soon. The absolutely brilliant songwriter Ryan O’Neal has written a new album called Atlas with a song for each Enneagram type. Each song is its own work of art, with every note and phrase carefully crafted to reflect the nuances of each Enneagram type—it’s beautiful! If you know your type, definitely look up the lyrics and listen to the Sleeping At Last podcast episode about each number. I’ve also created a playlist with their instrumental songs that are the perfect fall soundtrack.
Invest in some grown-up clothes.
I’m 41, and my wardrobe is still mostly comprised of grey t-shirts. Granted, most of them are work shirts, but sometimes a girl just needs some fresh, new staple items that fit well and will last awhile. I love jeans from Madewell (their 10” high-rise jeans are my favorite) and anything from my friends at ABLE (I use the Mamuye tote everyday, I have several of their scarves, and I’m loving the look of this feminine sweatshirt and this shirt for fall.) I found a new dress for our fall farm dinner from Roolee, and I’ve bought some from Piper + Scoot that I’ve loved. A few other online shops I’ve discovered lately that have fun dresses and jumpsuits are Robbie + Co, and One Loved Babe.
Buy some fringy shoes.
Besides my beloved broken-in Ariat farm boots, Minnetonka moccasins are my absolute favorite type of shoe to wear in the cooler months. I’ve had these double fringe boots for years, and this sneaker and this bootie both look like cute, versatile possibilities for fall.
Start Pilates again.
I’ve been a member of The Balanced Life Sisterhood for 5+ years now, and I always come back to pilates. I usually take a break during the summer months when I feel like my body can’t do one more strenuous thing, but I’m ready to jump back in now. Doing a 10-minute Pilates video in my living room or on the front porch helps me feel stronger, more peaceful, and ready to serve others more genuinely.
Stick to my sleep routine.
In bed by 9 pm, up at 5:30 am when it’s still dark. There’s a sacredness in that early morning time—so much that I actually crave the early dark mornings now.
Give simple gifts, just because.
When making a batch of soup, it’s not much more work to make a little extra and package it in a tall Mason jar to share with a friend. Or make an extra loaf of bread and wrap it in a brand new tea towel. Or pop some flowers into an upcycled tin can for a simple bouquet.
Some of the most encouraging words I’ve read about gratefulness are from this blog interview with Erin Loechner: “I do not believe in the words, ‘I have to,’ as in, ‘I have to go to work, or I have to raise my children.’ It is only, ‘I get to.’” This shift in perspective changes everything.
I’d love to know what your fall looks like—is it a slower season or a fuller one? What are some ways you engage in self-care in this season?
• Listen to the podcast episode for this post