Category Archives: Autumn

Autumn Glow, or Your October Book of Days

We are well into autumn now. It is October, the Feast, today on this second day of the month, of the Guardian Angels, and this evening, with the setting sun, comes Sukkot in the Jewish calendar, a holiday known also as the Feast of Tabernacles. A lot of the holidays / holy days that are not in my own family’s tradition are things I experience peripherally, and this is the case with Sukkot, which I associate with citrus. In particular, it is the fruit called etrog that is part of the Sukkot holiday. It is a very thick skinned citrus with an intoxicating fragrance. I’ve only ever held one etrog, but the experience stuck with me, for scent is a great portal to memory, is it not?

And so this year this is how October begins, with angels and intoxicating fragrance. It is for us a time of birthdays, too: Seth’s birthday was on the 30th of September, and my mom, she turns 94 today on the 2nd. At least we think so. We always celebrated on the 3rd, but a few years ago documentation surfaced that suggested we’d been celebrating on the wrong day and that Mom was actually born on the 2nd. And yet stories persist that really support the idea that she was born on the 3rd, for her middle name is Rosaria, bestowed upon her because she was born on the Feast of the Madonna del Rosario… which is on the 7th, but is often moved to the First Sunday of October, and in 1926, guess what? The First Sunday of October was on the 3rd. Anyway, our policy now is pretty much to just celebrate both days. Things were no different with her father: we celebrated Grandpa’s birthday on the 23rd of November forever, but looking back at records, the 21st may have been more accurate. So. What can you do? Perhaps there are benefits to a nonchalant approach to things like birthdays.

Be that as it may, I am here today mainly to bestow our monthly gift upon you: it’s the Convivio Book of Days calendar, this time for October. Cover star: the beautiful barns at Chosen Land, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, with a maple in the foreground, glowing golden. Appropriate for so many reasons: 1) no place does autumn quite like New England; 2) Seth and I were visiting Chosen Land this very time of year two Octobers ago (and that’s when I snapped that photo); and 3) it is the month of Hallowe’en, a most spirited time of year, and I don’t think I know of any place that is so attuned to the spirits of those who have come and gone quite so much as Chosen Land. The Shakers were and are very welcoming to the idea that the spirit world is quite adjacent to the physical world, and mysteries run deep there. These are the things Seth and I like to tap into as this beautiful month unfolds and as we approach Hallowe’en at its close… which ushers in all the Days of the Dead that follow, through early November, to Martinmas on the 11th. The calendar will serve as a good companion to this blog, and to the annual Convivio Hallowe’en Dispatch from Lake Worth… and if you’d like to receive that story, please subscribe here. (The Convivio Dispatch is a whole other animal from the Convivio Book of Days Blog; it is a very occasional newsletter… but more often than not it’s not a newsletter at all and most definitely more of a story––essentially it is me, writing creative nonfiction.) If you don’t get it in your inbox already… well, I do think you’ll like getting it.

October comes and we are closer to the height of our red letter days in the wheel of the year, the ones that brighten the darkness: Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Advent, the precursor to Christmas. We heartily believe in the value of both: of remembering those who came before and keeping those channels open, and of a slow approach to Christmas. Please take a look, if you will, by clicking here. You’ll see pages devoted just to Dia de Muertos and to Advent, and to lots of other things… oh, and that’s my mom you’ll see there, the birthday girl herself, at the top of the page, fishing from a row boat, circa 1950.

Our very best wishes to you this golden October and these autumnal days. Please stay safe, please stay well, please treat each other as you would hope to be treated. Much love involved.


Giving Balance its Due

And now autumn comes to the Northern Hemisphere. It is, by nature, a time of balance: balance of day and night, balance of light and dark. Across the planet. No extremes. Pure balance. Look for the sunrise due east. Look for the sunset due west. Straight and true.

I had a long essay written about balance and how so many things in recent months, weeks, days, feel completely out of that state of equilibrium. I feel it, and I think many of you do, too. Place it where you wish: within, without, in your home, in your nation. I get it. I ditched the long essay because you know exactly what I’m talking about and I think you know that for me, balance is along the lines of kindness, integrity, respect. I hope we can reclaim these things and know again that we are well.

The Autumnal Equinox comes to Lake Worth and the rest of the US Eastern Time Zone this morning at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time. Image: Justice Holding Scales by Parmigianino. Pen and ink on paper, early 16th century. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.


Carriage House, or Your November Book of Days

November has thrown us for a loop this year, but here, finally, is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month. It’s autumn, and it has just today turned a bit cooler here in Lake Worth, and that may explain how we have finally gotten the calendar published for you. Things suddenly feel in sync. We are in the midst of the days when we remember those who have passed before us, making it a very beautiful time of year. Cover stars for the calendar: Carriage House and Maple Tree at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine. The Carriage House predates the Community itself, which was established in 1783. It’s a graceful old building that stands next to the grand barn, the barn that to stand in it makes you feel like you are in a cathedral of sorts.

If all goes as planned, I’ll be writing again to you tomorrow to remind you about Martinmas, also known as Hollantide. It’s a time important to winemakers, and it concludes our annual sojourn with the dead, and we turn our sights toward winter. Speaking of: before things get way too Christmasy out there, the Advent season will begin on the First of December. We’ve got traditional Advent calendars from Germany and handmade daily Advent candles from England to help you mark the season and keep things at your own pace. Now happens to be a great time to order. Free domestic shipping when you spend $50 at our catalog; if you don’t make it to $50, it’s a flat rate of $8.50, which is also not at all bad. Or come see us at these November events; there are more coming in December––I’ve included the first one here:

Saturday November 23 from 11 AM to 3 PM
at First United Methodist Church
625 NE Mizner Boulevard in Boca Raton
A traditional Swedish Christmas with dancing round the tree and Sankta Lucia in a crown of candlelit evergreen. We’ll be there with our traditional artisan made Christmas decorations from Germany and Mexico, plus our new Christmas collection from Sweden, as well as Shaker herbs & teas and my mom’s famous handmade candy wreaths, as well as German advent calendars and candles.

Sunday November 24 from 10 AM to 4 PM
at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road in Boca Raton
Follow the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on FAU campus roads to Historic Building T6. Free admission, free parking, live music with Rio Peterson and the Lubben Brothers, and lots of great local makers. Our boutique will include all our Christmas artisan items from Germany, Mexico, and Sweden, plus Shaker herbs & teas, German advent calendars and candles, and my mom’s famous handmade candy wreaths.

Saturday & Sunday December 7 & 8 (2 to 9 PM on Saturday; 1 to 8 PM on Sunday)
at the American German Club
5111 Lantana Road in Lake Worth
Convivio Bookworks will be part of this old time German Christmas market in suburban Lake Worth. At our booth you’ll find traditional handmade German Christmas items, and we’ll throw in some other handmade items from our Swedish and Mexican collections, too, as well as Shaker herbs & teas, some letterpress goods, and my mom’s famous handmade candy wreaths.

More markets to come beyond this, too!