Forum Holitorium

Month: November, 2013

Having the Oranges

In the past month or so, I’ve started to crave the freshness of citrus. This is unusual. I’m not an orange juice drinker because it’s too acidic and I try to avoid citrus in winter because it is so cooling. Yet at the end of October, I bought a small jar of Italian bitter orange marmelade. What a revelation – tart and sweet, it helped wake me up and gave me a shot of energy the mornings I spread it on Dutch baby pancakes.

The bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium) is an evergreen that grows throughout the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Orange flower water has found its way into the cuisines of this region, notably in baked sweets such as navettes or pompe à l’huile in Provence. Neroli oil extracted from its blossoms can be used to soothe the nervous system and improve digestion. Orange blossom tea is known for its relaxing, sedative properties and also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac.


Looking out the window at the grey, I wondered what my strategy should be to face yet another day of rain, fog, and damp. I’m not depressed, I don’t have the blues. Instead, I have the oranges. I hereby declare this expression to mean to actively seek out all shades of orange to keep one’s spirits up and receive energy in the face of uninspiring weather. Yes, I yearn for a splash of color at a time when everything appears to be cloaked in various shades of concrete.

To start, I prepared myself a cup of orange blossom tea in a bright mug. A quick scan of the living room brought this skein of yarn – one of three – to my attention. Hand dyed with sorghum, this Portuguese wool is waiting patiently to become an object of delight to someone yet to be determined (perhaps even myself). Any thoughts on what it should become? Instead of reading its fortune from tea leaves, what do you see in the future of this ball of wool?


Orange is the happiest color.” – Frank Sinatra


The Leaves Have Left

Days turn to weeks. I have thought of this blog many times, tested recipes, half written entries in my head. Yet: silence.

As the wheel of the seasons steadily turns from fall to winter, it is time to bunker down, pull on a bulky wool sweater, prepare a pot of herbal tea, wrap yourself up in a blanket, and listen to yourself.

What was the harvest like? What has made me happy? What can I be thankful for? What is still unresolved? Where would I like to go? What do I need?

I relish this emptying out, this coming to a close. It is a period of rest to enjoy before everything revs up in spring and starts anew, a time to gather your strength and come to a still point.

A friend sent me a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that complements the view out my window of naked walnut trees. Unsatisfied with several English translations I read, I translated it myself. Here is my version:


The leaves are falling, falling as from afar, as if distant gardens in the heavens were wilting; they fall with a shake of their head.

And during the night, the heavy earth falls from all the stars into solitude.

We are all falling, This hand is falling. And look at others. It is in everything.

And yet there is One whose hands hold this falling with infinite gentleness.

Sometimes the grey becomes too much and color is necessary to revive sinking spirits: the red-orange of a butternut squash, the purple-red of cabbage accompanied by raisins and cinnamon, the deep green of lamb’s lettuce bathed in pumpkin seed oil, the dark blueberry-colored wool becoming the aforementioned bulky sweater. Here is one last image of the golden autumn, preserved in my new sweater. So warm, so fine, so cheer-inducing.