Today is the Autumnal equinox, and for for now, the light of the Sun lasts as long as the dark of the night. Morning wakes with leaves coated in dew, giving way to skies covered in a thin veil of wispy clouds, blown by the Autumn breeze. Slowly, the colors of Fall begin to unfurl. While some of Summer’s emerald leaves still hang onto the canopies of trees, others, like the sycamore, begin to turn yellow as September continues onward. The dogwood exchanges its green lacquer leaves with ones touched with crimson, along with berries as red as cinnabar. Quince fatten and glow like pale jade, and the spiny husk of the chestnut burr begin to turn a rich tawny hue. Fields of wild grasses wave and ripple in the wind like flowing sheets of golden silk, dappled with bright field flowers.
For weeks now, I have seen these slow and subtle changes play out from the vantage point of my tearoom window and wait in anticipation for Autumn’s colors. Unable to resist any longer, I decide to make a bowl of 薄茶 usucha (“thin tea”) in a brightly-colored Autumn 茶碗 chawan. Setting water to boil in my iron antique 茶釜 chagama (spoutless kettle), I begin to assemble a collection of teaware.
The Autumn chawan, with its flashes of dark red, ocher and gold, is set in contrast to the other elements made of unadorned wood.
Against this bright field of color, the eye is drawn inward, towards textures of cut bamboo and woven linen.
Cleansed, the chawan beams even in the low light of the tearoom, showcasing iridescent spots of gold and red borne from the heat of the kiln.
Even the small 棗 natsume (tea container) and bamboo 茶杓 chashaku (tea scoop), set one on top of the other, contain the rich, earthy tones of Autumn.
Issuing-out three scoops of 抹茶 matcha powder into the center of the warmed teabowl, the clean grassy scent of green tea rises.
Whisked into a light foam, both tea and teabowl glow before me.
A moment passes and I admire the setting: the tea and teaware, the heat emanating from the antique iron chagama, the sound of the Autumn breeze pushing through the trees outside my window. Lifting the bowl to my lips, I savor the crisp and fleeting flavor of the tea.
Even this moment has its end, and I finish by cleansing the teaware once again. Teabowl and whisk are rinsed. Residual matcha powder is wiped from the chashaku. Whisk and tea scoop are set within the teabowl. The wooden natsume is set beside them.
Still enjoying this moment, I pause and arrange a simple 拝見 haiken (a final moment to view teaware during a tea gathering). Inspecting the natsume and chashaku, I am reminded of things to come. The bold colors of Autumn, too, shall come and pass.
Once gone, only the dull colors of Winter will remain, save for the bright green shoots of next Spring’s splendor pushing up from beneath the snow.