Fall Foliage 2018
©Tree in Motion by Dena T Bray.jpg

There’s a reason it’s been so quiet here on Gathering Flavors. My mother died in late August. Both the time leading up to her death, and these few weeks after, have been full and difficult. I’m tired.

I don’t know where to begin to tell the story, but I know connecting and talking about it is part of the healing process. While there was a strong bond between us, my mother and I had a complex and painful relationship. The loss is complicated, as a result.

So here I am, searching inside myself for the right words, the right tone, to begin again.

©Glowing Field by Dena T Bray.jpg

My husband is writing a short story about a gift. Without revealing the theme of his piece, he did get me thinking about the nature of gifts and giving and some of the gifts of these recent months amidst the sadness and the sorrow.

During the last months of her life, my mother lived at a nursing home located across the street from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Life inside the home was difficult, the residents each at the end of their lives, some suffering more than others. That beach was a gift to us every day we visited. Just the whiff of ocean air whenever we left the building was enough to remind us that life goes on. Watching children playing in the waves with their parents or surfers gliding on the water brought an immense and positive energy our way.

Other gifts:

  • Kind strangers who helped us through the healthcare system.

  • Hospice workers, with their calm and compassion at the darkest moments.

  • The bright sunny day we visited the graveyard to prepare ourselves.

  • Our rabbi and his wife, who guided me through the first 13 years of my life until my Bat Mitzvah, guiding me again through all the rituals of a funeral and a burial.

  • My father’s memory and the memory of my sisters.

  • My husband’s unwavering support and sense of humor.

  • My children’s strength.

  • My loving aunts and cousins.

  • My dear friends.

  • The poodle sitting at my feet as I write this.

  • You.

And of course today. A magnificent afternoon with the sun bouncing off the leaves of amber, gold, and crimson. Yes, there really is something magical about fall in New England. The transition reminds me that other seasons will come. Some cold. Some warm. Life will continue and joy will present itself many times over.

©Simple Tree by Dena T Bray.jpg
©Orange Tree by Dena Testa Bray.jpg

I don’t have a recipe for you this week, but I promise one soon, because food is the best way that I know to connect and nurture

For now, I hope you enjoy these foliage photos.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.