Small Comforts: Fall 2020 Edition

Well here we are, well into the fall season now, and I’m thinking about all of the little things – luxuries and everyday delights – that have brought me joy, peace, or just comfort lately.  We are adjusting to yet another new normal, overseeing distance learning – for the entire school year, yikes – and trying to cope with what feels like a never-ending pandemic.  (Seriously, WTH.)  While this fall has stripped away many of the big joys – watching the kids trot off to a new classroom; organizing and reliving memories from summer vacations; looking ahead with joyful anticipation to holiday travel – there are small things that are bringing light to the everyday, and I am clinging to those.

  • My “reading nook” in the living room, as Steve calls it.  I have set up and arranged my white bookshelves, and they are colorful and enticing.  Most evenings lately, I wander over to the slipcovered couch, light a candle, and sink into a novel or memoir – a happy change from spring and summer, when I struggled through a pandemic-induced reading slump.
  • Related: candles.  I love the warmly dancing flame on my coffee or dinner table.  I’ve even been lighting them in the mornings lately, since it’s a bit darker these days.
  • Also related: backyard campfires.  All summer, “get a fire pit and build a fire in the backyard” had been on my to-do list.  I didn’t get around to it until Labor Day weekend, but I’ve kept it going into the cooler weather and it’s bringing back memories of chilly fall afternoons at my parents’ camp, standing around a bonfire that my mom kept going with sticks cleared from around the property.  There’s nothing like the smell of a campfire in the fall.
  • Vanilla and almond black tea from The Republic of Tea – a recently re-discovered cool weather favorite!  Steve is the coffee-brewer in our house (I can make coffee, but I generally don’t, unless he’s out of town) but I am usually the first of the two of us to get up… and I can’t face the morning of mediating disagreements over cartoons and breaking up fistfights without a hot beverage.
  • Smartwool socks.  I don’t know what’s going on, but the design team at Smartwool is killing it this year; so many cute options for hiking and running.  I can’t resist an ombre look, and there are a bunch.  I was due to replenish my sock drawer, so I ordered a couple of pairs, and they’re keeping my toes warm and happy.
  • The return of glorious fall running weather!  It’s no secret that summer running in Virginia isn’t the most fun.  And while I like that accomplished dripping-with-sweat feeling as much as the next girl, there’s nothing like a crisp autumn morning for hitting the road – or the trails.  I’ve been pulling out my Merrell x Dogfish Head trail running shoes more often lately (including in a grueling trail 10K earlier this month) and remembering how much I enjoy trail running.  There’s a small park right in my neighborhood; no one is going to be running a marathon on those trails, but for a quick breather they do the trick just fine.
  • Amy’s minestrone soup.  I’ve long been a fan of minestrone, but the kids just discovered that they like it – Amy’s brand, specifically; they won’t accept Wegmans Organic.  In these long days of juggling work and virtual school, it’s nice to have another quick lunch (or dinner) option for them.  Sometimes I just can’t face even microwave mac ‘n cheese.


  • My bird feeders.  So pandemic predictable, I know.  But we are all still getting such joy out of our daily bird observation time.  Now that the goldfinches have taken on their winter plumage, it’s not quite as vibrant of a show – but it’s just as engaging as ever.  The whole family has been drawn into the little dramas and comedies at and around the bird feeding stations in the front and back gardens.
  • The return of The Great British Bake-Off.  (Because I refuse to say “Baking Show.”)  Life always feels cozier when there are new episodes of Bake-Off waiting to be devoured.  Of course, Bake-Off has the side effect of causing me to crave more baking time, which is more problematic now that we no longer live next door to our dear Robert and Zoya and I’m not regularly going to the office.  I’ll have to make friends with the neighbors here, so that I have someone to pawn baked goods off on.

What little things are improving your life lately?

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