Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grasping at summer

I've never been one to usher in the arrival of fall with whoops and cheers, eagerly abandoning the over-ripening tomatoes and mammoth zucchinis for early apples and taut leeks.

I know the fall produce season is a good long one, so these days I overlook the (howbeit, beautiful) bushels of oval Roma tomatoes at the market, and pass over the heaps of Spartan apples in favor of yet another basket of peaches, a flat of berries (perhaps the last for many months), a dozen ears of corn, and the largest bundle of basil to be found.

Back in the kitchen, I turn the basil into pesto and freeze it in muffin cups for use during the winter. The boys hunker down by the compost pile and shuck the corn for me, so I can cut it off the cob and add it to the freezer as well.

I serve up salad after salad for dinner, followed by generous slices of melon, which we all -even Clara- eat until the floor under the table is sticky and the rinds are heaped on our plates.

I understand that autumn's arrival is inevitable. I don't pretend to ignore the landscape of school supplies spreading across the buffet. I'm aware, painfully so, of the faint tint of gold on the leaves in the back forest.

Even today, as we picnicked with lemonade and cookies on the grass (an undeniable attempt to salvage summer), I felt a chill in the air. Clara's bare feet felt clammy. And I shivered even though the sun was shining.

Yes, August hangs by mere moments, but I'm choosing to live in them, deliberately.

On Sunday I cannon-balled off the diving board at my in-laws, amid shrieks from my boys. I let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, relished the cool quiet, then surfaced in the sun. Perhaps it would be the last swim of the season.

I stripped Clara naked and dunked her in the clear blue salt water as well. She's only going to have a soft teeny dimpled bottom to appreciate for so long. At five months she's sitting and nearly crawling. In as much as I'm aware of the season's turning, I'm as painfully aware of how quickly she is growing up, transforming from infant to little girl.

Christmas products are in stores and holiday baking is starting to plaster Pinterest, yet I'm firmly stuck on summer. I'm buying up stone fruit and baking desserts like Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler, which Danny and I consume together after the children are in bed, our spoons congenially scraping the bottoms of our bowls together.

The best way I can come to terms with the approaching autumn (and subsequent winter) is to preserve the summer season in jars. This week I roasted trays and trays of peaches slowly in the oven, and as they perfumed the house, they reduced into a thick, rich butter. I seasoned the butter with a dusting of fresh cinnamon, tipped it into hot jars, and gave them the hot water canner treatment for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, the pints of cinnamon-peach butter join the other jars in my pantry: sweet zucchini relish, pickles, cherry-plum jam, strawberry jam, blueberry butter, sliced peaches, cherries in vanilla syrup, and more.

Slowly, one jar at a time, I am conceding the end of summer.


Stacie @OneHungryMama said...

yes! i'm with you. hold on. (and can!) it's crazy how quickly time moves these days. enjoy the last days of summer with your gorgeous family. i know you're not looking forward to it quite yet, but i can't wait to see what you serve up come fall.

Cheri said...

Yes! I whole heartedly agree! I'm going to hold on to summer for as long as I can. I've been purposely avoiding all of the fall themed things that seem to be popping up everywhere. I'm just not ready! You described how I feel perfectly and so eloquently. :)

Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies said...

I can't decide if I'm ready for Fall or not. It's my favorite time of year, and James and I consider it "our" time because we met in the Autumn, moved in together then, and got married then too. I always look forward to the crisp air and falling leaves because it takes me back to meeting my love for the first time, and being together *finally*. However, I can say that this summer has been especially lovely. I kind of feel like we're finally coming into our own here on the East Coast, with regular friends to hang out with and a full dance card all summer long. So in that sense, I will be sad to see it go.

Your kids, Aimee, I swear. I'm pretty sure I love them almost as much as my own niece and nephew. They're just such wonderful kids, and so perfect the mesh between you and Danny. How could I not love them?

Aimée said...

Stacie, Cheri, Amber - thanks you all! XOX

SecretGarden916 said...

27Came across your blog quite by accident and after reading a while, and enjoying, i had to smile because I'm originally from Montreal too. Been in California for the past 30 years, and always look forward to fall. (it's currently still 95 during the day). Not that I don't love summer and all that goes with it, but anxious for the temp to drop.

Michelle said...

It's true - I was looking at all sorts of relishes and tomato based projects, and realized I should really be focusing on the summer fruits while they are around. Put up some plum jam and blueberry/maple syrup jam as a result!

Rhianna Nelson said...

Beautiful, beautiful writing. I'm in the lucky position of living in the southern hemisphere, so I'm enjoying the beginnings of spring! But I still remember what that feels like, and I hope these last few days of summer for you are brilliant! :)

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flandmade said...

We northerners (okay, I'm only in Maine, so I'm not THAT north) have to hold on to summer for as long as we can, because pretty soon we'll be buried under snow for five months!

Gwen said...

Funny, I've been hearing much of the same sentiment around the blogosphere about the arrival of fall. I must say, living in Phoenix I am at my wits end w the heat and the rain we've had the last few days is an exhilerating bigining to my fav season. Great idea on freezing basil.

Tammie Grey said...

I love the snow.. but it's too cold..

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