Oct 6, 2008

Nagori, a lingering feeling

It seems like overnight, we went from the warm pleasant days of September to the chill showers of October. It is indeed fall as the leaves are in their full color against the cloudy grey skies of the Pacific Northwest.

In some ways, October is the perfect month for tea. There are so many themes to choose from, and the lingering nostalgia for the summer months makes October a wabi tea month. The broken and repaired teabowls, the slender mizusashi, the gyogodana which we only get to use this one month of the year. Traditionally, the tea jars that were packed full from last year are down to the end of tea this time of year. Mostly there are the broken and discarded leaves at the bottom of the jar. The brazier moves from the left side of the tatami mat to the middle to move the fire closer to the guests and ward off the chill. Soon the brazier will be put away and there is a general melancholy at the coming of winter. Looking at what remains, there is a nostalgic lingering feeling of farewell. This is called nagori.

In a way, the autumn is looked as the end-- end of bright summer days, the warmth of sun on our faces. As the days shorten and the rains come, we wish that summer could go on. But in many ways, autumn is the beginning. School starts in autumn, and for tea people, the new year of tea begins in autumn as we look forward to using the new tea leaves harvested in May. But now, with the coming of winter, there is an urge to use precious resources and not waste anything.

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