Now, where did I leave that?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Gratitude

October is a feast....of color, abundance, bounty, beauty. Every year I try to gorge myself on it like a child who knows that birthday cake only comes once a year and so eats until sick. Of course, unlike that child, I never get sick of or from October; I want more and more....and its inevitable passing breaks my heart.

Ah, but then, cooling balm to the riotous color, peace to the frenzy of activity, November arrives. Its winds blow away the warm Summer evenings' haze, and there's a delicate, naked beauty in the blue-black night and bare trees adorned only by the waxing Moon and Venus.

November can be harsh and intense; even as I began to write this yesterday,  the stiff breeze had the wind chimes calling out in alarm and the sun shades banging the window frame. The fire was up, we wore double layers, and I was tucked into red alpaca socks all day. It was a gray day, but the kind of gray that is unmistakably November, the perfect backdrop for the golden browns and and lingering yellows, a day that requires the simmering of soup & burning of cedar incense, and so I embraced November with nary a glance back at October. A farm market visit was followed by the making of an amazing roasted squash and apple soup (with bacon!), not a creamy and refined soup; no, this soup is hearty, chunky, beautiful and comforting.

I will say the recipe has a few vague moments, and the end result was a tad too sweet. I recommend leaving the bacon in large pieces and removing once the simmering part is done. The recipe uses "white wine or water"; water seemed a bad plan, and I didn't have white wine in the house, so I used cider. Next time I'll use a dry white wine, and tarter apples, and perhaps a wee bit of ginger. I also suggest not mincing the garlic, but instead throwing in a generous amount of halved cloves (I think I halved about 10 good sized cloves) with the apples and squash and onions. I mashed the veggies just with two big spoons, purposely leaving some chunks. Oh, and I added a bay leaf to the simmer pot. It's a soup worth experimenting with, and will go well with grilled cheese sandwiches for a comforting dinner tonight.

We took a ride through the encroaching dusk, dogs in the back of the car watching the world pass by; our destination was the piece of property we're in the process of buying. We have a contract but it's an odd and convoluted story that may take quite a few months to iron out. It's several acres about 40 minutes from here, elevated just enough to change horticultural zones from 5b to 5a, and just a wee bit cooler, 5 or so degrees, from our own house. The wind blows nearly all the time there, sliding off the slopes of the northern Catskills, a living being ever present.  We've yet to manage photos that truly capture the beauty, 

so it will have to be enough to say that the mountains are right there, so close they look like you could walk to them, so close the land feels nestled into their lap. I'm learning alot about patience and trust (as my sister & I say about patience & trust--blech!, although she's so much better at them than I) as we wait to see if it will all untangle. 

This morning I stood out on the porch, coffee in hand, surveying the yard and the vast amount of buttoning up left to do, telling Linda it'll be easier to just move than try to get it all done. And then I realized that the back yard was filled with birds: gold & house finches, bluebirds, chickadees, juncoes, at least three kinds of woodpeckers, and more....gorging on coneflower and black-eyed susan seedheads, in the weeds and trees and quince bush, in the raised beds and tomato pots. I love watching the birds; next weekend's chore list includes setting up the feeder stations in the front yard, but to see so much activity in the back was such a gift, and an affirmation of our plan to begin turning part of the back yard from lawn to meadow. I can watch birds for hours, but alas, too many tasks are lined up for the day, from creating storage for a large quantity of Winter squash to making room in the freezer for several more quarts of soup, roasting veggies for dinner later this week, and cleaning two cupboards to make room for the plethora of spices we purchased while on Cape Cod.  But the window shades will stay up so I can watch the birds as I work. If you're not seeing so many birds today, perhaps a visit to this webcam will make you smile and give you a taste of November's peace. Because amidst the chores and the impending holidays is an oasis of calm. November (in this hemisphere, anyway) invites us to prepare for Winter but also to begin hibernating, snuggling in, to sit by a fire and take time to watch the birds; to simmer soups and stews; to knit and spin, sew, read, write; to dream and plan; to savor this moment. November has moments of such quiet, almost the hushed whisper of a Winter snowfall but not quite...November is our chance to catch our breath, recoup, and prepare for the months ahead. And for that, I'm deeply grateful.

Have a great day!


Jen said...

SUch a beautifully written post--the tone and rhythm made me think of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales. You've truly captured the season. And that soup sounds amazing.

Nancy J said...

Words that reach out, in your autumn season. A new piece of land, exciting, and mountains so near. Waiting for news of all going through as you hope. Greetings from Jean.

Willow said...

Such a beautiful serene spot in the photo nestled at the foot of mountains.
Wishing you the best with your new horizon.
Be Well,

Rain said...

Beautiful Ashling.... Could really feel it! Thanks- Rain

Haddock said...

to sit by a fire and take time to watch the birds.... that is what I like best.

Our Neck of the Woods said...

We've been having pretty nice weather up until this week when it has been so cold! Feels like winter here now. I hope you are able to finalize the purchase of your property soon. It looks really pretty and sounds so amazing.

PS - Thank you for the comment on my post about Sylvester. I really appreciate it.

CraveCute said...

Lovely post! I think the soup sounds wonderful, always a bit of tweaking with those types of recipes. I love making soup, so much fun and economical too! Our birds crowd the feeders right before we have a turn in the weather. The ducks were eating everything we put out and now that the lake has almost frozen over most have left. Winter will soon be upon us.

Linda said...

I felt like you were writing about my life. LOL..with the exception of that beautiful piece of land you are buying...Absolutely gorgeous!! Yes the birds...we love ours too...especially in the morning during coffee....I love November....Great post Ashling...always enjoy your writing...


Michaele said...

I am so excited for your new place! Sounds wonderful!