November Road.

Fall and Winter. Peas and carrots. At this time of the year, Fall and Winter seem to be always holding hands,  usually meeting up sometime at the end of September. They share October, playing nice for the most part, then fight over November as if they were unruly toddlers. Eventually Autumn bows her head and gives way to the gales of Winter's wind and the snowy days of December.  However these two seasons differ in the day to day they always seem to love the dance, the exchange that November brings.

In the pale light of early evening I remember the Novembers of my youth. I can see  the streets of my childhood and the piles of leaves we plowed through in the dying rays of the day. I remember the way the crisp air hit my face, the sound of the leaves falling and the lyrical prelude to what would soon follow. And all these things, all the ways that tie up my life, entwine me to these days of mine. all of these things bring with them a weight of being. this weight I keep close like a touch stone in my pocket, holding me close to the hearth, keeping me grounded. It's always been hard for me not to drift, my head in the clouds dreaming of what will be. There is a comfortable discomfort in this. At times I want to escape the thoughts that crowd my mind. I think of all the things that I love and rub the small stone that sits silently in my pocket. I want to be in the light, the place where I feel safe, but I know I am also fierce and that maybe someday I will know the answers to the questions that keep me awake at 4am. Forcing me to be present with who I am and who I will no longer be. I dwell on being present, right here, right now, just for this moment.

I am present. There is nothing so mundane, and joyful, and painful as being present. I am present during the day to day, where each one is the same yet so very different from the next. 

And yet not.

I am the first born of a first born. I drew my first breath in a whitewashed farmhouse at the first light of day, in a land far away, deep in the heart of summer. The first sounds I heard were love and horses baying in the field. The crystal paned windows revealed the first buds of a life not yet lived as the ocean greeted me from somewhere across the shimmering white plains, it grabbed my heart. those first moments, purple rays in the rising sun, strung together my first sentence, held me up as I learned to walk, dried my tears, and held my hand when I first felt fear. from there I learned that there are gifts in this world that can be at once so beautiful and so cruel.  it stamped onto my heart something intangible.  made me into a lover of words, a keeper of memories, a mother of children, a sister, daughter and friend. The desire to be all these things, melded together, holding together, to shape this soul of mine.

I rise at first light. in one hand I hold my coffee, in my other hand I hold the bucket that fills heavy with all the thing I love. so I wake each day, walking a path that is a constant unknown, one that is always misshapen, cracked in the crooks of the road from the wheels of my travel and the bare boned love I have. The November road always makes me sad. I feel the weight of that stone in my pocket, rubbed smooth between my calloused fingers and I know that I have not always chosen to be present in the way I always need to be.

I look up at the sky that will slowly turn a bright blue. I can still see Orion's belt, and though the sky is still a deep navy, the last bits of the night are being swallowed up by the soon to be seen sun. It is her way of whispering that she is almost here, dancing just behind the dawn. I don't want more light just yet, I don't want the sun to come up and wake the others. I just want to be here, in the quiet, sitting with the ache of the cold wood finding its way into my skin.The dark wind that echoes down the hallows of my heart. So in the dark, in this Autumn of falling, I dream about the ways I fall. And I dream about the struggle, the bedfellows that Winter and Fall are. I dream of my childhood and I dream of the years still to come.  And I dream of the days when I will reconcile the Fall and Winter of my soul and let fall into the passing of dreams my own desires.

I know that once I let fear take over, I will lose my grip.
This is life. Once you let the fear in, you will just end up on the couch watching LOST reruns. Once you let panic take over, you will be stuck in the lie that you are worth nothing more than the last time you were kind of good at something. Fear is the murderer of dreams. Of coherent sentences. Of getting anything done beyond moping and texting your sister what if I let my bangs  grow out?

And amidst these ashes and Simon and Garfunkle playing in the background, I know I will always find hope. How can you not when there are things as beautiful as a Simon and Garfunkle song. as beautiful as this life. there will always be hope, like a phoenix rising in glorious song, the sweet cantor bellowing from my soul.

And so I keep Simon and Garfunkel on repeat.  and hope in my heart.


Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

For frosting
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. I had no trouble getting my cake out of a nonstick pan by just buttering it, but if you don’t have a nonstick cake pan or are a little nervous, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that too.

 Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdly and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. You can speed this up, as I always do, in the fridge.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.


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