We just passed the Autumn Solstice, and the weather shifted accordingly here, the shorter days cooling off immediately.
I saw a beautiful online card that depicted the changing of the season, with singing blackbirds and falling oak leaves. It gave a romantic sense of melancholy, a gentle portrayal of the shift.
I don’t see delicate blackbirds, but rather giant ravens. They don’t sing, they squawk. They don’t flit about, they swoop – some would say like a bad omen, but I find them somehow majestic, even if in a sinister way. When they come close enough, you can hear the pounding drumbeat as the wind is moved under their wings.
I do see shorter days, and more golden light from those days. I see leaves on the ground now that the fruit is all picked, and pumpkins disappearing from the fields and piling up in bins at the farm market stalls.
October has started, and many are thinking of Halloween. I find this year has been scary enough without thinking of more ghosts and goblins. We have had a plethora of spiders this summer and they offered plenty of atmosphere to give that sense of spookiness.
I feel in limbo. I am working hard inside to put up the harvest in preparation for winter, but also trying to soak in the afternoon autumn sun. The summer priorities are coming to a close as the garden gets wrapped up and I must move on to studying and other indoor work. It’s too early for Christmas decorations but the house feels bleak and dark with shorter days.
Perhaps I am just getting used to being that much older. Thank goodness for granddaughters, who bring light and promise into the world.
January. Short drab days and long cloudy nights. Not even a twinkling star to cheer one through the darkness. My Prairie girl soul takes offence to so much grey; it aches for the sea-blue skies and blinding sun on snowdrifts.
My best remedy for what seems to be a seasonal malaise is to cook. I especially like to use citrus flavours in winter, as they help to awaken the senses and brighten things up with their acidity and even their colour.
One of my favourite January pastimes is making Seville Marmalade. I have always loved the stuff, thanks to my maternal grandfather who hails from the Scottish side of my heritage. His habit of stuffing things in my tiny mouth whilst babysitting me as a toddler is probably the largest single contribution anyone made to my palate. Marmalade, green olives, watermelon… he opened my eyes and tastebuds to the range of flavours in the world.
I have written about my marmalade making in the past, and the wonderful author of the recipe I use, in my post Wishing for Marmalade Skies . I did make marmalade this year again, adding a wee dram of Johnny Walker Black Label to the pot just before filling the jars. Next year I intend to submit a sample in the international competition in Dalemain, UK. I’d like to attend their Marmalade Festival too, at some point.
For those who aren’t marmalade fans, I have another recipe for you to enjoy. I adapted a tart recipe from Ottolenghi, a fabulous chef to use for winter inspirations with all his Mediterranean flavours.
Orange Polenta Cake is perfect for sharing, whether for afternoon tea, happy hour (with a bit of Asti Spumante) or as a dessert after a nice stew dinner.
There is a wee bit of a marmalade flavour from the caramelized oranges on top but the cake is buttery and having a bit of caramel sauce with it almost makes you forget it’s winter.
It is a new year, and spring will come eventually. In the meantime, I’ll keep cooking and persevere. The smell of the oranges cooking will remind me of sunshine and lollipops and all things bright and beautiful.
Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.