Saturday, October 22, 2016

Changing menus #phenology

The other day we shared a concern that we Minnesotans will pay for this beautiful weather we've enjoyed intermittently this extended Autumn. Soon thereafter reports of a forthcoming "Winter Vortex" appeared in the local news media. At a personal level, weather is one of those things I try to put under the heading of "accept the things I can not change," although that too rarely stops me from complaining if the weather doesn't fit my mood or plans. Conversely, I have no doubt I'd be bored out of what passes for my mind if I lived somewhere that didn't have four seasons worth of weather.

home-baked sourdough bread
home-baked sourdough bread
Photo by J. Harrington

I can't imagine living somewhere that didn't regularly get cold enough to make hearty and delicious soups and stews really enjoyable, especially with home-baked bread. This year so far we've only flirted with that kind of weather, and soon it will settle in for the season. After all, Halloween is less than a week and a half away. One aspect of Winter that I find reassuring is that I can comfortably curl up inside where it's warm, enjoy a cup of coffee and a good book, and not feel as though I should be doing something else, or that I'm missing something.

Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns
Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns
Photo by J. Harrington

This Winter we're going to add trout fishing back onto the list of options. We'll see if the Tenkara rod and line (no reel or line guides to freeze up) we got for our birthday last Summer makes a helpful difference in Winter fishing. I've not the patience to sit around for ice fishing, and it's been years since I've enjoyed actually playing in the snow instead of enjoying its beauty from inside where it's warm.

bare aspen branches
bare aspen branches
Photo by J. Harrington

Before we get to that point, I'm going to enjoy the beauty of the oak leaves still in the trees. Most of the others have come down in the winds of the past week. It seemed as though the pear tree dropped all its leaves in just one night this past week. Maybe some early "haunts" scared them off.

Bread


By Richard Levine


Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.


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