.Good Gourd!

Seasons change and so do we

Autumn is the season of the middle-aged. Its harvest is abundant, yet with heartier fare; more savory gourds than sweet berries. Leaves turn colors and fall off trees (read: the graying and receding of hairlines). Many of us slow down. Hopefully, we become more mindful or present.

It’s through this slowing down that I most experience moments of awe. On the weekends, I walk through Tilden or Redwood Regional parks, breathing in the flora and admiring the verdant groves of old-growth trees. Or on especially lucky days, I’ll witness a sublime sunset from my backyard. That sense of wonder gets me out of my usual overthinking and into a state of gratitude. And it just feels good. Much better than the constantly churning hamster wheel of my mind. (I sometimes joke with friends that “awe” is my new “fun.”) 

Dr. Dacher Keltner would agree. We feature here more about his awe-some work at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and his book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life.

Wonder can also be found by walking through the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek. In this issue, we discuss the otherworldly beauty of this immense collection of succulents, which can inspire our own drought-tolerant home gardens.

Art and music can be other sources of awe. We’ll find plenty of that at Manning School—also featured in these pages—where they teach bluegrass and acoustic music to students of all ages. Or if we’re content to watch the professionals instead, Cal Performances is hosting an enticing month of staged marvels. Since we’re entering a season of celebrations (think of them as exploding awe), check out the Japan-inspired wines at Nakamura Cellars in Berkeley’s Gilman District. Delight in the artful gifts of Laurel Burch Studios, and be moved—as I was—by Aarin Burch’s heartfelt attempts to honor her late mother, Laurel. 

We may be slowing down in autumn (aka, midlife), but we’re still able to get pickled—as in, join the ever-growing pickleball phenomenon sweeping the nation. It’s a sport for all ages! And may we all find our fun, in every season.


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