I’ll bet you’ve had a moment like this.
We don’t feel the wheel turning – it’s a wheel after all, and its movement is smooth, subtle, rolling us from season to season with no clear borders between them. And yet the wheel of the year turns, and today it turns us toward autumn. Oh, we’ve been noticing the beginnings of autumn color in the trees for a few days now, but it’s been so hot, the skies so clear, that no one’s been thinking of autumn. We’ve been wearing our summer outfits, sitting outside, soaking up the gift of late-summer warmth and sunshine like a bunch of contented lizards.
But today I knew without knowing that the wheel had turned. The proof appeared in my kitchen. A few days ago, a friend had given me a bag of green apples from her backyard tree – much too sour to eat out of hand, but perfect for pie. And today, those apples called to me – gleaming like citrines in their bowl in the pantry. Low and behold, there was a frozen pie crust in the freezer – and now there’s apple pie in the oven.
And my magnificent fiancé looked up from his computer screen to remark that somehow soup sounded better for dinner than the grilled salmon we’d been planning. Well, my sweetie makes the best grilled salmon in five counties – or whatever the German equivalent would be. He’s always in the mood for – yes, that too, but I was going to say salmon. And he was right – it is the perfect day for soup: high overcast, light drizzle, and a certain rich, warm tone to the late-summer light. The big linden tree outside my kitchen window is still green, and at 7:30 P.M. it’s still light enough outside to read, but something is whispering “autumn.”
For me, autumn is heralded by cravings for soups, squashes, apple pies and plum tarts, and lots of walks in the crisp, cool weather. My lizard brain knows that I’d better stock up on outdoor time while I can, because winter will be knocking on the windowpane all too soon. And winter announces herself with the urge to bake cookies and rich, cheesy casseroles. Spring is heralded by cravings for fresh green things. Summer rides in on the sudden urge to grill – veggie kebabs, chicken, fish – anything cooked outdoors suddenly seems like an excellent idea.
It’s not that I don’t notice the outward signs of the change of seasons; they’re pretty hard to ignore. Every spring, I scan the sky for the swallows’ arrival, and my heart leaps a little – OK, a lot – when I see the first sky-borne acrobat performing her aerial swoops and swirls. And it’s pretty hard to miss the piles of autumn leaves that suddenly rustle under our feet. It’s a thrill and an honor to glimpse a big V of geese crying high above as they make their way south, or north again. You can’t help but notice the first time that frost glazes the windshield of your car. And, no matter how old I get, the first snow of the year is always remarkable.
But mine is mainly an indoor existence. And so my primitive lizard brain reminds me of the change of seasons – she smacks her little lizard lips and ponders a new menu. And I see no reason not to indulge her.
I hope you enjoy your soup this autumn.