This late summer, more than others in recent memory, we may be more keenly aware of the way the light is changing. It moves across the landscape with the laziness of summer and the early haste of the colder seasons. But it isn't just the warm, low, honey-toned rays saying that autumn has begun to twirl their song in our direction. It is the first chilly nights in a while. It is the leaves along the tippy tops of the trees trading in green for gold. It is the increasing taste for apples and the first thrills of being cozy. Ah, late summer you beautiful creature of a world, where we occupy two seasons truly at one time.
Thankfully there is a late summer to ready us for autumn, and an autumn to ready us for Winter in the northeast. We have some time to ease in and make small adjustments to our routines. We have some time to ease into the wee shifts that help our bodies feel safe and our needs met in the changing environment.
Thus we follow the age old tune, "so within, so without". As the temperature cools, our bodies cool. As the energy of the plants moves slowly from fruits to roots, we too shift increasingly inward in various ways. Transition, no matter how well anticipated (or not), will always present both challenge and opportunity. In a truly ever changing world, the ways by which we engage and adapt to a moment, a day, a season, and a life stage will make a difference one way or another.
The transition from late summer to winter, even though it may seem premature, is a particularly good time to begin leaning into the support and fortification of our immune systems. The earthy cores of our body are still warmed by the summer sun, and if we care for this warmth now we will be better suited to meet the challenges that the colder days bring.
When it comes to herbs and food, consider drinking teas in the evening with aromatic warming spices like tulsi, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, and chamomile. Sip warm water throughout the day. Start incorporating soups and braised dishes with beans and seaweed into your weekly meal planning. If you don't already have a stock back in your freezer now is as good a time as any to start one, and broths can be enriched with deeply immune supportive herbs like astragalus root*, medicinal mushrooms, mineral-rich herbs, bones, and various seaweeds.
And a world on "dryness". Autumn is a notoriously dry season (think of the leaves!), which can cause the tissues of our upper and lower respiratory system to need some extra moisture. Moistening herbs pair well with aromatic herbs this time of year. Consider marshmallow root, burdock root, licorice root, linden blossoms, and violet leaves.
Wishing you, dear reader, the insight to identify the small simple ways you can make room in your day to look after your future self, and the inspiration to follow through.
*Astragalus root is our September Herb of the Month! You can find high-quality, organic bulk root and powdered root for 50% off and bulk organic tincture and glycerine for 25% though the month! Click here to order. There will also be a FREE class on this amazing plant Wednesday September 9th, 6-7pm. Pre-registration required, register here.
By Susan Staley
Susan is a clinical and community herbalist. Her current practice is with The Clinic at Railyard. You can schedule a conversation or consultation with her, or any of our herbalists, here.
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