From Fall to Winter to Hope

08 October 2010 3 comments
This morning I was asked when I might begin blogging again.  My answer: "now".

Here, in my new life, approximately 800 miles from my former one, I am enjoying the morning chill.  Pictured is my friend Caruso (he calls with a remarkable voice), a gull on Lake Mendota.    Across the lake -- as well as behind us -- are the trees.  They are the ease of green becoming the yellow of hope becoming the red of joy...and yet, Fall is upon us.

Caruso is resting on the dock.  At any point he can fly away -- and yet he rests.   When will he feel ready to lift himself up?   

That is the mystery.

In my new life I can walk.  I rode a bicycle to my meeting with Caruso early this morning.  Because I spent so much time "inside" in my former life, I have to rebuild my strength here, now.   Like Summer, riding down the hills to the lake is easy, joyful.  The breeze rushes quickly by.   

The joy gone too quickly.  

Returning home is more difficult.  Summer's end reminds of what lies ahead...we have to pedal a little harder.  Even shifting the gears down, I am working very hard.   Plus, because (embarrassingly) I have not done this in a number of years, when the hill gets steep I am walking the bicycle up the hill.   Walking with my burden.  

The burden is quite heavy.   Summer into Fall into Winter.

In Fall the chill returns.  We begin to look inward, prepare for Winter, letting go of the old, the well-used, our regrets.  Fall is the time when our outer selves fall away as the leaves rain from the trees.   

Fall is the time of letting go and of Grief.  The burden -- is heavy.  And yet, we somehow shore up for Winter.

Two days ago my friend's husband died suddenly.   Grief, unimaginable at best, weakens us.  It turns us upside down and shakes us to the core.   Life will never be the same for her, for her children.    For those of us who knew him, it feels not only as though the leaves have fallen, but that a great tree has crashed to the ground.

Leaving a space.   A hole.  A void.

While we can never make it better for ourselves or those we love -- and while we can comfort those who have lost dear ones -- we can strengthen them to help them through.

As I said, Grief weakens us.   

Grief is the emotion in Traditional Asian Medicine which is associated with the Lungs and with the Fall season.

In Fall, people will feel melancholy, may begin to cough.  Very often those who are in mourning will develop upper (or lower) respiratory infections within a short span of time after their love one's death.  They will feel weak, "used up" not "like themselves".  

 No surprise there, they have been shaken permanently.

When one of my patients has lost a loved one, I give them herbs to strengthen their Lungs.   These herbs strengthen the Yin of the Lungs, moistening them, shoring them up.  Although it does not seem to make logical sense, this herb formula seems to lighten their experience of Grief.   The burden does seem to lift a little.

This formula, Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang, contains the roots of Glehnia, Ginseng, Rehmanniae, Platycodi and Chinese licorice as well as the tubers of Chinese asparagus, Lily bulb and others.    It moistens the skin, the Lungs -- and is said to improve our communication with Heaven.

If you are lucky enough to not be in mourning, Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang is a wonderful seasonal formula to help your body to adjust to Fall's dryness, to the melancholy which follows.  

Eating Pears, Lotus Root are also excellent tonic for the Lungs.

In Fall as well, we prepare our body for Winter...which energetically is only a few weeks' away.    During Fall, we eat more soups, more teas, more warm and nourishing things -- preparing for what lies ahead.

Below is the recipe for a nourishing Fish Soup which can be taken when you are going through a difficult time, when you are recovering from surgery or medical procedure, in preparing for Winter and all Winter long.  It is made brothy in this season -- and as the weather becomes very cold, it is made denser.

For my dear friend, as well as for all who are going through such a difficult time, we are wishing you strength.   The hill is very, very steep and the burden is so heavy.    But I hope, after a very long Winter, just as Caruso will be able to lift himself up -- that your grief will lighten just a bit...

And for in the world...Spring will follow the rain.

Fish Soup

2 Quarts water
1 large carrot, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 parsnips, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 onion sliced thinly into "half moons"
1 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 ribs celery, sliced thin
1/4 cup lotus root, thinly sliced and quartered (for lungs/grief especially)
3 oz udon noodles for fall, 3 oz soba noodles for winter/grief/recovery
2 lbs cod or other white meat, moderately flavored fish

Combine all ingredients and cover.  Cook on medium heat until fish softens and is able to "flake", about 40 minutes.
Season with sea salt to taste and garnish with parsley.

This soup feeds your friend, your family or yourself for three days, taken often.


  • Bells said...

    loved loved LOVED the fish soup, it is sooo good!!!! also, if by getting ready for winter you mean stocking up on tissues and snow shovels way early, you are one hundred percent correct! LOVE YOU MOM!!!!


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