Of Red Leaves and Cinnamon Smells

by Julia Becker Collins, Director of Community Engagement

When I was 19, I moved from California to Massachusetts.  While I moved primarily to transfer from one college to another, it was also motivated by my desire to move back to a place with four distinct seasons.  Originally from New Jersey, I discovered after I moved the 3,000 miles to California that what I missed the most from back home, what I was really ‘homesick’ for, was the transition of the seasons.  I longed for the early part of fall, before the bitter cold of winter sets in, but when the leaves are still on the tree and are turning wonderful colors; I longed for the early days of spring, like that first day when you can leave the house without your winter coat, and when the tulips first pop out of the cold ground.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, when the leaves start to turn the many shades of warm on the color chart and there is a crisp cool breeze in the air, I know that my time has come.  For many people, the transition into fall means the end of summer, but for me it’s all about beginnings: the beginning of sleeping with the windows open at night, wearing a scarf to stay warm during the day, and of roasting piles and piles of farm-picked squash over the weekends.  I love the way that the air smells this time of year; it’s like a combination of burning leaves and cinnamon.

When I was planning my wedding, I decided on a “fall in New England” theme so that I could share my deep love for this time of year, in this place, with all of my friends and family from across the country that I was lucky enough to have there to celebrate with me on that special day.  My now-husband and I thought about every detail of the day through this theme: the refreshments in the hotel guest welcome bags were all from local companies (Polar seltzer from Worcester & Necco Wafers from Revere), our ceremony was outdoors and surrounded by beautiful foliage, and we had pumpkins and gourds as decorative details throughout the reception.  We even served warm apple cider during the coffee service at the end of the meal.  We may have gone a bit overboard on the ‘fall-ness’ of it…but we loved every minute of it and hopefully everyone else did as well.

Three days before my wedding, the Thursday before the big day, I came to immerse at Mayyim Hayyim.  All I could think about on the drive over was how tight the schedule was over the next 3 days and how many caramel apples I had to individually wrap in cellophane bags (with curled gold ribbon, of course).  I remember that I had to take a moment to pause and breathe in the prep room in order to help refocus myself as I was getting ready for my immersion.  While the ritual itself was incredibly meaningful, it was that time alone when I was getting ready beforehand and that moment I took to be still in the water after I finished my third dunk that helped to shape the next three days.  Looking back on that time I know that those quiet moments were exactly what I needed in order to set my mind on the right path for the next few days, but I know that when I made the immersion appointment, I thought I was just coming in to check the next thing off my to-do list.  So now, when the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow and the air is rich with cinnamon, I know that my wedding anniversary is approaching, but I also think of it as an anniversary to my relationship with the waters of Mayyim Hayyim.

Julia Becker Collins, Director of Community Engagement, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is in the process of completing her Masters in Public Administration at Framingham State University.   She and her husband, Devin just celebrated their second wedding anniversary on October 17th.  Follow her on twitter @JuliaRivka

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