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Coorying into Autumn

Dear Wild Sister

How is Autumn going for you so far? Personally, I am beyond happy – THIS is my season; it’s when I feel most alive, most intune with myself and aligned with the natural world.  This year with the pause and reset buttons being switched on by the pandemic, the natural world has been allowed to thrive and regenerate in a way it hasn’t been able to, due to pollution and living habits of the modern age for quite some time. As a result the hedgerows, embankments, verges, woodlands and parklands have flourished and my foraging has been bountiful.  One of the biggest changes I have witnessed this year is the seasonal shifts.  The seasons are maturing and transitioning earlier than we are used to.  For instance, Autumn arrived in August not September round these parts which is actually in line with the old Pagan calendar.  This meant that our usual conker collecting trip resulted in having to really scour the ground and kick through the leaves to find our treasured cheggies.  We always go around this time of year but this year I ought to have gone a week or 2 ago. Never the less, we came home with 107 cheggies (my 10 year old counted them and was happy as got more than last year) which are currently chopped up and will become both laundry detergent and shampoo!! Just like soap nuts, conkers from the horse chestnut (not sweet chestnut as far as I am aware) contain the same amount of saponin and since we regularly use soap nuts I thought this is a perfect local and sustainable alternative.

As well as enjoying the great outdoors, October is also when we begin our retreat back indoors, to coorie in.   To coorie in / coory in, is a Scots term for cuddling up on the couch with a loved one. As a child I always associated coorying in with cuddling in on my Mum’s knee, whether reading a story or watching tv, feeling safe, secure, content, happy and loved.  Nowadays it’s my child cuddling in beside my to do likewise – although I have to say not on my knee any more as he is almost the height of me!!  When  think back to the early and mid 1980’s we used to regularly get powercuts, which always seemed to happen (as my memory serves) when my Dad was working in the evenings, but I have very fond memories of my Mum then getting the candles and torch and the bread and toasting fork and making toast sat in front of our coal fire.  That is coorying in.  And for want of a better cliche, making sweet cozy memories.

To describe the feelings of coorying in is difficult as it is such a lived experience and unique to the time. It is a moment in time. For me now when I think about coorying in, my reaction is both physical and emotional; it is a very satisfying inhale, a warm feeling in my belly and a comforted smile. It has also, however, become a bloody buzzword and commodified.

Since I wrote my Coory In  / Hygge post in October of 2016, I have seen the publication of 3 Coorie In books (2018, 2019 x2 and a new one coming out 2020).  Did I miss a trick here? Was my idea nicked? Doubtful from my small readership, but still…possible.   What I can say is that Coorying in, to me, isn’t a cash cow. It’s also not House of Bruar stylised tweeds and spartan interiors with the odd sheepskin throw and cut crystal glass of whisky. You can coorie in and hunker down anywhere – it’s a feeling inside you as well as a state of being and I guess, doing. It is also for everyone and I especially think this year more than most.

 If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that every country or culture that experiences the changing seasons has their own version of hygge or coorying just waiting to be remembered, reclaimed, embraced, lived and loved deeply.

(I wonder if the Danes felt a bit “urgh” when Hygge became a thing…)

In life on this planet, evolution and change and transformation are in constant motion, with differing speeds. The coorying in of old is beginning to morph from huddled blankets on the sofa with your child to extending our embrace to reach those around us in our communities. This is going to be a rough winter, so the need to feel safe, secure, content, happy and loved is vital even though that may seem like quite a list of requirements. With the physical distancing measures in place, becoming ever more restrictive as the nights draw in, we need to look out for one another. People isolated or living alone or living with anxiety due to the pandemic or other may find all the coorie chat unbearable and unattainable. Perhaps losing a job during 2020 has placed the household under financial struggle that paying the bills is more of a priority than a cozy feeling in your belly. Maybe you know someone in need of time to coorie in. Could you be the one to wrap your arms around them beckoning them to coorie in, for their mental health as well as their physical, or drop by with a pot of soup and some chat? We may not be “allowed” to enter other people’s homes at present in Scotland, but back gardens are still open! As are walks. There are many ways to coorie in, it just takes a bit of compassion, imagination and if necessary, a face covering. And mind and wash your mitts!

Keep well, stay wild.
With blessings & deepest gratitude

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