There’s some debate about whether the first day of fall was yesterday or today but my internal clock already knows what time it is. It’s time to start cooking, and with the rich, rewarding flavors that arrive in the greenmarket right about now. Over the weekend I carmelized those figs. Yesterday I made a wild rice dish with roasted squash and sage and apples. Today a lamb stew with potatoes and carrots and thyme and a healthy splash of beer is whispering my name. I know the weather is gorgeous; I know everyone’s running around like a happy chicken with their head cut off. But for me, this season is always about communing with my kitchen. As the nights grow cool, this is where I’ll be–puttering about in slippers, tying on an apron, and stirring my witch’s cauldron while old R&B soars through my speakers and the rest of the world glitters outside my window. Blessed Mabon!
September Saturday morning: Dressing like a camel lady (flannel plaid shirt; long print skirt; beat-up Birkenstocks, albeit silver ones). Digging on Prince channelling Bonnie Raitt through my kitchen speakers. Carmelizing figs with honey and sliced almonds and sea salt and thyme. Spooning it all in with a splash of sheep’s milk yogurt on the fire escape. Trusty grouch-kitty sitting pretty by my side. My early-morning life, thus framed.
I’m really milking every last bit of summer out of this month. Today I had to read the wonderful book Tracks for a gig so I planted myself behind Red Hook Fairway and read the afternoon away on a bench overlooking the NY Harbor. As the sun dropped lower, more and more locals and Fairway workers came out to watch. I couldn’t stop grinning. When hanging out on the West Coast years ago, I’d been so touched that people would casually congregate on streets and in parks to watch the sunset. I’d never imagined we hardbitten New Yorkers would do the same (which goes to show you how much time I spend on the West Side Highway, I suppose). It all felt even grander since I’d spent the day with a loner in her Aussie desert, widenening into a wordlessness that she painted with the same voluptuous palette.
On the way home, I felt that sour apple feeling: happy to be nestled in a poncho and a long skirt, sorry the layers were rapidly growing essential. It reminded me of when I started back East on my road trip around the country. (My sweet auto Sadie was but a lass back then.) The first night the sun dropped in my rearview mirror rather than my windshield, I wept bitter tears. From then on, I understood manifest destiny not just as a race toward gold but as a race toward the glory of the sun itself. I felt that same grief tonight as the day exploded in the back of my now-geriatric car—and so early, too. Oh, oh, oh. A real lump in the throat. Anyway, apples and fire: that’ll be this fall.