Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

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Oh Fall! How do I love thee?

Oh Fall! How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways. I love thee for cooler days and the return to roasting succulent cuts of meat, for rich sauces made from boiled pan drippings, and the serene pleasure of mashed potatoes larded with butter. I love thee for sweet baked squash […]

Dog Days, Part 2

Dog Days, Part 2

When I introduced River in this blog a few months ago, I announced in a tongue and cheek way that he came from a Texas kill shelter with “a suitcase full of yet to be revealed ailments,” lamenting a case of very treatable but not inexpensive cancer […]

The Clock of August

The Clock of August

In the yard this morning
Let’s face it, August is heavy with expectation. We’re all thinking about what’s to come, all the while larding our calendars with things to do before the golden days of autumn settle in, before the evenings are too cold to sit outside, before the early mornings are perceptibly darker. Our bodies swing between hurried preparation and a kind of manic relaxation:  One more vacation, one more weekend getaway, one more long hike, one more fourteener before bad weather and back to school. My Facebook feed has been one non-stop pleasure-fest, so full of friends’ exploits and accomplishments that next year, I’m banning all beach photos.  You think they’d have an app for that.

Plainly put:  August is a ticking clock. 

Our Giant Sunflower
For me, it’s been rather a time bomb. I woke up this morning realizing I’ve washed up on the shore of summer feeling as if I’ve missed it. There have been no vacations this year, no camping, no Persieds, not even one hike, though Greg and I managed a few bike rides. I’ve barely set foot in the garden.  Instead, I’ve merely glanced at it from my office, an 8×10 space where I sit and write for four, six, eight, or, as on one fevered day, thirteen hours. And while it’s true that writing every single day is the dream of a life I’ve long had, the bubble popped this morning on its romance.  This summer, my artistic life has obliterated all else.  

The Glory herself
Of course it’s my own damn fault.  In some ways, it’s been easier to sit at my desk as an excuse to escape the string of 90 degree days appearing more often than not since the beginning of June. But that’s not the whole story:  I’m nothing if not a toiler and a doer and, whether rocket fast (kitchen prep, cleaning, weeding, chores) or slow and plodding (writing and writing and writing), I manage a sturdy, cement-like focus, letting all else—pleasure, anyone?—fall away. 

So I’ve arrived on the eve of September realizing I need to take not only a breath, but a sledge hammer to all this concentration. It began this morning, when I broke routine (coffee, journal, work on book) and stepped outside before 8am for the first time all summer. 

A fat morning glory yawned open against the garage and I plucked three strawberries and a handful of beets. Lemon basil bolts from neglect, but the vegetable garden is thick with the promise of tomato and peppers.  My monster sunflower, pregnant with blossoms, towers fifteen feet in the air and the rosehips are fat as raspberries.  Taking it all in,  I resist the urge to plot and plan.

This holiday weekend, though it makes me breathless, I vow to take all three days off from writing.  Plans?  I have a few which include poetry and Greg and hammock time, or perhaps a bike ride to the Farmer’s Market along with a drive up to the hills.  Whatever it is, no matter how much fun or spectacular or beautiful, I will not be posting the pictures on Facebook.

Beets

 

A Menu For Change

A Menu For Change

Okay listen. Like you, I’ve been unable to look away from the daily idiot-grams tweeted by the Demagogue Who Would Be King.  Inside these last burning days of July, I’m boiling, not because of the heat dome currently centered over the nation, but because one loud-mouthed […]

Letting My Yolks Run Over

Letting My Yolks Run Over

There really isn’t any food as erotic as the sunny side up egg.  Think of the way the synapses in the brain sizzle at the sight of a golden yoke oozing its buttery pleasure in brothy soup, on top of a pile of greens, or […]

Dog Days

Dog Days

Dog days typically mean the oven of August, that sweltering dried out month with Sirius overhead and the first signs of wilt below.  For mountain girl me, the dogs have the day once the thermometer rises above 82 and nights no long dip below 55—that’s June through mid-September on the prairie—days that are as onerous for me as they are long.   I sleep with wet towels and eat nothing but tacos and salad for weeks and weeks.

But this year, there’s been a different kind of dog day—these since December, and with nothing to do with the burden of hot weather.

Dear friends, meet River.

River (with my niece) in his new home with winter coat

The artist-lover and I have long negotiated the idea of canine companionship—he worried about his tough as nails and set in her ways alley-cat Dottie, who almost two years of co-habitation merely tolerates me.  How, we wondered, would she respond to a dog?

Summer Coat
Of course it all happened by accident—we’d stopped at the Humane Society as we’d done so many times, just to look.  And the dog we thought we’d like to meet was just being adopted, but River, whose tag said he wasn’t yet available for visits, was.  And that was that.  Greg and I had probably been to the pound a dozen times, only to leave empty handed.  This time, before we knew it, we were taking the pooch with the old man walk and a bad case of flea dermatitis complete with a coat as bristly as wire, home. 


I’ve always said the dog picks you. 

This one must have known I’m as sucker when it comes to animals and so it has been that the mystery dog we’ve saved from a Texas kill shelter who came with a suitcase full of yet to be revealed ailments—among them a rare form of venereal cancer and a back problem likely the result of the buckshot lodged near his spine—the one who had probably never lived inside before, has officially become a pampered pooch.  We’ve gone from no dog on the bed to nights when either Greg or I have just six inches of leg room and Sunday mornings like this: 
River and the Sunday Times

Our cold frame is River’s favorite hot spot:

These are the dog days indeed.  River gets supplements for his bones and back.  His coat has softened to a pleasant fur.  The cancer has been treated and is gone and he gets acupuncture for his spine.  
Cat with tail mustache–“What evil lurks in the mind of Dottie?”
And Dottie?  She didn’t take off.  Instead, she saunters up to the dog and gives him a well-aimed swat at the face.  Sometimes, it seems almost like she is playing—but we’re not sure.  Nevertheless, the dog that outweighs her by 60 pounds cries like a baby whenever she enters the room.
Growing Season

Growing Season

garlic! The garden is budding with garlic and onions planted last fall, pea vines and carrots planted this spring. I’ve got micro-greens growing in tires, and Greg is hardening off basil, tomatoes and peppers started in our basement from seeds. Already, we’ve harvested French breakfast […]

True Grit

True Grit

I know most of us have been ho-ho-ho-ing and clinking up a storm all the way through November and December, only to land, as we do every year in January and February, otherwise known as the armpit of winter. With nothing to celebrate in the […]

I Have a (Pie) Dream

I Have a (Pie) Dream

“If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

 

                                                                                  —–Carl Sagan, Cosmos

 

 
And now, let me interrupt your carefully plotted turkey preparations (Bagged? Barbequed?  Spatch-cocked?  Deep fried?) to speak solemnly about pie.   Fellow food and tradition lovers, I have a dream!
 
 
I have a dream that one day cooks everywhere will rise up and throw out pre-made crusts and those frozen vaguely-berry imitations to discover the deep pleasure of making something so lovely with your hands, fresh ingredients, and a little faith.
 
I have a dream that an old recipe will be unearthed or a new one discovered and that taking courage in her hands, a pie-maker will be astonished at the magnificence of the cosmos captured in a 9-inch round.
 
 
I have a dream that sugar pumpkins will be roasted or canned whole pumpkin and good green granny smiths will be chosen, and that the pie makeR will know the integrity of these ingredients count more than ease or speed.
 
I have a dream that these pies will be made in solitary meditation and in harmonious groups, and that the pleasure of sifting and blending, cutting and sugaring, will make the sunlight bend and the day long and glowing.
 
 
I have a dream that this year more discover the art of pie crust, which let’s face it is simply fat, flour and water slightly blended.  And that these new converts will see it’s okay to gently pulse the food processor to get the perfect mix.
 
I have a dream every crust will be properly chilled to allow its gluten to relax and the dough to preserve its shape.
 
 
 
I have a dream that America will eat its pumpkin pie on a plate instead of in a cup. And the pies will be like the lightest, creamiest custard instead of grained cardboard.
 
I have dream that cool whip will be banished from the table.
 
I have a dream that each and every pie will be tasted and savored, and praise will be given to the pie maker for their hours of devotion, the prayer of his hands, the song of her sweat.
 

 

I have a dream that one day every hand-crafted pie shall be exalted, and every store bought shall be made low, and the glory of the universe shall be revealed in each tender bite.  
 
 
Naughty Little Breakfasts

Naughty Little Breakfasts

I woke up to winter this morning.  A few inches of snow dust the ground and sugar-coated trees hold up a shock of blue Colorado sky. I’m finally sleeping deeply again after the long hot summer so the arrival of cold weather and chilly mornings […]