Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City


My heart has almost always had a warm and fuzzy place for fall. Winter, not so much. It seems filled with more night than day. Cold air that hurts my lungs. Icy sidewalks that turn into hip breakers in the blink of an eye, slippery roads that white knuckle me right into high anxiety.

But fall. Just enough coolness to revive my energy and clear my head on a brisk walk. Fall that gives us explosive color and a vast aray of hardy root vegetables. Evenings that come earlier, but still leave time to meet friends for a drink.

With age, the fall season has taken on a richer, more expanded presence for me. It prepares me for a more reflective, introspective winter, when the snow and temperatures keep me indoors and my connection to nature is mostly through windows. I think the year of COVID allowed me to experience a winter unlike others. It gave me an excuse to hibernate, to revel in my singularity, and to feel free to spend so much more time in thought. I immediately connected with a quote from J. Drew Lanham, “the self-renewal of wintering”. Winter as a time for solitude, to “reroot” and reboot, when the noise from the outside is silenced and we can hear more clearly our inner voice.

So I approach the coming of this end of year with a different temperament, a more accepting and even, inviting perspective. My life has been altered by the past year and it’s forced adaptations which have unexpectedly presented me with new choices that have made life better. Zoom gives me freedom from shoveling and securing safe walks and steps for my home studio students, and gets rid of the need for cancellations for bad weather. I no longer have to drive out on death defying icy roads or expend energy donning several layers of clothing to just take out the trash. Having a quiet, warm place to plant myself, enjoying the world from a safe, cozy inside has suddenly become an attractive alternative to the past necessary life I lived.

I wander through fall, preparing the gardens for rest and finishing up as many outdoor projects as possible. The approach of oncoming winter is almost a relief. The expansive long summer days wane and my need to be productive til the sun goes down, wanes with them. I am released from those long hours of daylight that push me to do, do, do. Now as the night filters in earlier and earlier, I begin my evening sooner, wrapped in robe and slippers, feeling the slowing down of my body and its timeline, aware of my deep breaths and long stretches of contemplation.

I now have a stronger sense of how the seasons measure our lives and mark upon us, memories. Along side spring’s splendid blossoms, summer’s endless sun and fall’s glorious color, winter too, boasts a quietude of crystalline snow that acts like a balm to my busy brain and reflects back a comforting stillness through the glass.

As leaves blanket the garden and lawn, revealing the skeletal architecture of trees, I realize the importance of this annual ritual, this shedding, as an essential step to regeneration. A requirement for continual growth, a steadfast resiliency that is often misread as decay or death. Nature pulls itself in like I do, building up fuel to power our potential come spring.

So while I stock up on beans and grains for soup season, and put away my cotton and linen clothing, I feel an anticipation, a rather novel sensation for me at this time of year, that has awakened with my age, my lifestyle changes and a need for more time away from too much world. A chance, if even brief, to find some peace.

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