I’ve been in Ojai for a little over a week now, both working and allowing my body a much needed rest and reset from my usual routine and pace. Sometimes when I’m in this place for even just a short time, I can’t remember a time before it. There is a sort of magic to the atmosphere for sure. And from time to time, I wonder what that means — what my soul is connecting to, or perhaps, grasping for. I like to think that I make decisions out of healing and growth rather than fear or escape. Truth is, I have finally started to trust myself enough to know when to move forward instead of looking in the rear view mirror (I really hate the rear view mirror).
I used to question how easily I could detach and move on from a place, a job, or a relationship when the timing was right. I am loyal and committed, but once I feel disrespected, unvalued, or have outgrown a box I had been living in, I have no problem giving it up. This is why I love seasons. Sometimes they are abrupt. There is no stopping the leaves from changing. When it is their time to grow and let go, they simply fall. People say that Southern California doesn’t have seasons, but I disagree. They are just a lot more subtle. It will be 90 degrees on October 31st, and you will wake up on November 1st to different colors in the trees and a 59 degree crisp, autumn chill to the air. It comes without warning — but it comes.
I am currently falling in love with California all over again today, because fall truly is the perfect season. I woke up in the Ojai mountains to rain drops on the roof and stormy clouds above. After an early morning trip to my favorite coffee shop in town, I decided to romance myself further with a little bit of forest bathing. My heart felt such a sense of calm as I walked through countless oak trees. Growing up in Florida, we had one of the largest oak trees in Tampa in our front yard (which actually came down during a hurricane season). These massive oaks are so wise and so beautiful, and one of my favorite things about them is the acorns that come down in the fall. I decided to go on a little foraging adventure this morning before the storm rolled in.
One of my earliest acorn memories must have been when I was two years old living on a lot of land in Ocala. My brother had this kids play Jeep (that I was never allowed to drive). I would collect acorns and place them in the back of the little red car, hop in the passenger seat, and squirrels would chase us around the yard for their treats. Eventually we would make an abrupt stop — dry autumn leaves rustling beneath the wheels — and we would get out to feed our furry friends.
My next acorn memory is a bit of a romantic one. In kindergarten, I had my first boyfriend...Johnny. He basically looked like a five year old version of Danny Zuko from “Grease” (white t-shirt + leather jacket and all). During recess in the fall, we would always walk together to collect acorns to feed the little woodland creatures around us. Johnny eventually moved away, but my love of acorn foraging never left my side.
My plan with today’s foraged acorns is to open, soak and smash them to make treats for my friend’s sweet rescue chickens and pigs in town. I will most likely create a little how-to post on the acorn treat adventure, though I am not expecting too many of my urban friends to follow suit. You don’t have to forage for acorns to experience fall, but I encourage you to get out there and feel this season in any way you possibly can. Go for a walk, head to the mountains, collect some fallen leaves, and find the beauty in this place we get to call home. I was so much better about giving myself scavenger hunts as a child, and though I only spent an hour wandering and collecting this morning, it has made my day so rich. I am a better person when I slow down. We all deserve a life enjoyed.