Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Musings

                                                                                              Photo: Jan Pappalardo  

This has been an unusual fall in many ways.  We've had a few cold days here in the DC area, but not consistently.  Last Saturday morning we woke up in nearby West Virginia to a very brisk 28 degrees.  Nonetheless, we explored Charles Town and shopped at their small, but wonderfully stocked farmer's market, enjoying some warming and free (!) coffee from a local roaster, gathering supplies for an impromptu picnic of cheese, bread, guacamole and chips, and happening upon the most delicious thin green beans of which I bought enough for a dinner during the week as well as some to blanch and individually quick freeze.

On Sunday, when we returned, I quickly started cooking and made the hummus from the cookbook Jerusalem as well as some pumpkin bread, using my basic banana oat bread recipe, substituting pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice for the banana and cinnamon.  I also added a splash of maple syrup.  I kept the oven going for a while, roasting some eggplant to eat with the hummus.  The warm oven gently reheated the chilly house, and we drank tea and relaxed and I started planning some pureed butternut squash soup that never did materialize.  Or rather, I ran out of steam in the late afternoon and never made the soup.

By mid week, however, thoughts of soup couldn't have been further from my mind as the weather warmed up again to the mid sixties, with an overlay of warm, humid air reminiscent of late spring and not at all evocative of November, even in DC.  Halloween eve, itself, was warm and a little rainy, which I don't remember happening for years.  Earlier that day, I had just noticed the array of colors finally painted across the tree tops while walking in the park.  Yellow, orange, rust, red, and the merlot color of some of the maples.  

As I was leaving the house the next morning in the pouring rain, I noticed that the deluge had washed most of the leaves on the street under Maddy's car and covered the drainage sluice along the curb, stopping up the rain water rushing down the hill, and cascading a wall of water about three feet high over the tail end of her car and onto the sidewalk.  Although I was already late for an appointment, I felt compelled to redirect the flow.  So, in my raincoat with hood on (at least the hood on looks better.  Maddy says that I look like a turtle with the hood hanging down my back), armed with an ancient wooden handled golf club that Teddy bought at the Next to New Sale for $1 and that we inexplicably leave in the umbrella stand by the front door, I went out and scooped and "chipped" the leaves out of the way of the drainage area.  Once I had the water flowing steadily down the street, I then tried to clear beneath the back of the car just a little, until I realized that Maddy was still asleep in bed and was probably not going anywhere in the car for hours.  

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to be invited out to Sycamore Island for some canoeing on the Potomac in the late afternoon, on what we figured might be the last warm day.  It turned a little windy, but the colors and the light as the sun dropped were breathtaking.  Paul and I have a little work to do on rowing in the same boat, but we did pretty well once we got out of the shallow, rocky area.  I did not grow up with canoes, as Paul did, and my more recent, limited experience on the water has been in single person kayaks where there is no need to communicate with anyone else to maneuver.  

And now, as I write this at the new 8 am after changing the clocks, I feel a chill in my toes and nose and I can tell that the weather has changed again.  Maybe tonight I will make that butternut squash soup.