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Back in Place

There’s always a settling-in process after a long trip, especially one with a substantial time difference. You need to unpack, return things to their proper places, catch up on sleep, see what has changed or not while you were gone. There’s always a sense of displacement: some things are the same but you feel they should be different now, to match your experiences while away. Other things are different even though you wish them to be the same.

When I left for the Netherlands, it was summer. When I returned, it was autumn. Warm and sunny yet, but the trees are starting to shift into their fall plumage, the nights are just a bit chill. The autumnal equinox is nearly here, and the days are poised between light and dark.

I spent the weekend catching up from my time away: tending to the yard, reassuring the cat, getting almost to the bottom of my email inbox, washing heaps of laundry. It was a long week at work, and little of what I’d intended to do actually happened.

The CSA veggies have shifted toward autumn. Acorn squash showed up this week, and there’s a big pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove with kale, onions and potatoes from the farm.

A warm gooey Asian pear cobbler will follow it up. The crunchy sweet pears may be $1.69 in the grocery, but I have a friend with a tree. In the way of real fruit, not all were nice enough to eat raw, so baking was required.

Asian pear cobbler

This year I left the wild grapes growing in the rose patch, just to see what happened. This weekend was the ideal balance between “too sour” and “too old”. I’ve been nibbling on them since they started turning purple – sour but very grapey.

bowl of wild grapes

I simmered them briefly with a bit of water, mashed and strained them. Tomorrow I will pick up some pectin and turn the lovely purple juice into a tiny batch of grape jelly. I think I’ll prune the vines out this winter. I didn’t get enough grapes to justify letting them climb all over the roses.

Autumn has touched the yard, but hasn’t entered the courtyard yet.

tomato jungle

The tomato jungle avoided the blight, though I haven’t gotten any ripe tomatoes yet. Everything in the courtyard this year came up on its own – I was gone so much that I didn’t want to put in anything that would require watering. Pansies, pinks, petunias, snapdragons – all made themselves right at home in and around my planters. You can see a large patch of volunteer petunias behind the tomatoes.

I believe my soup is ready – it’s smelled fabulous for the last while – so I must abandon you for autumn food and the Shadow Unit I missed while I was gone.

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