I love September Saturdays, especially Saturdays when I can start the day by going to the farmers' market and then come home to putter in my kitchen.
Such bounty there was at the market on a recent Saturday, making it hard to remember I cook only for two. Even with that restriction, I made two trips to the car. One laden with corn on the cob and apples and the other with zucchini and yellow squash and green peppers and summer greens and onions and new potatoes and golden tomatoes and carrots and hamburger buns and hamburger patties.
Gladiolas for the front porch. I love glads. I love their extroverted personalities--the definite colors and big blossoms and unwieldy stems. Many people associate glads with funerals, but I think about the front porches of the turn of the century homes at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. Every home, it seemed, had a vase of glads on their front porch, announcing how happy and lucky the home's residents were to be there. Just the way I feel about this kind of day.
Sunflowers for the kitchen. I love sunflowers. I love their disposition, their ability to find the sun wherever they are. I remember taking the train from Rome to Florence in early fall and seeing fields of them. An Italian Welcoming Committee. One day roaming narrow streets in Florence we found a small pottery shop and bought a large pitcher painted with sunflowers. Now full of American sunflowers.
The first batch of applesauce. In the peeling and chopping and boiling and stirring and smelling, all the previous Septembers rush through me. The years we lived at Sweetwater Farm, and I walked the neglected orchard at the far edge of our land and hoped the deer enjoyed the fallen apples. Sunday night suppers of homemade tomato soup (See my recipe for tomato soup in my Tuesday, September 12, 2012 post), grilled cheese, and applesauce and an apple for lunch at school or work.
I think of these verses from the Apocrypha in the Old Testament:
Why is one day more important
when all the daylight in the year
is from the sun?
By the Lord's wisdom they were
and he appointed the different
seasons and festivals.
Some days he exalted and
and some days he made ordinary
Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach) 33:7-9
My father frequently says, "Every day is a good day." I don't mean to contradict the writers of Ecclesiasticus and certainly my devout father would not sanction that, but it seems to me he no longer cares about the difference between exalted and hallowed days and ordinary days. It's not that they all merge into one hodgepodge collage, but rather that every ordinary day is to be exalted, is to be hallowed. Surely, the Divine rejoices.
Sunflowers and gladiolas and apples and the rest of autumn's bounty blend the distinction for me between what is exalted and hallowed and what is ordinary. Going to the market and chatting briefly with the growers and then coming home to recipe books and time standing at counter and stove and then later serving a meal, not fancy, but oh so tasty, is my way of following the sun like the sunflowers on our kitchen counter. I joined the glads on the porch after cleaning up the kitchen, dishwasher humming, to read. Such exalted pleasures on an ordinary day.
Nancy's Simple Chunky Applesauce
Pare, core, and slice four medium apples. (Good cooking apples--a combination of two or more types adds to the layer of flavors.). Combine 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and LOTS of cinnamon. Be generous with the cinnamon. That my secret. Bring to boiling; cover and cook slowly till tender, about 5 minutes. Makes 2 cups.
I would love to know what turns ordinary days into hallowed and exalted days for you. Try adopting "Every day is a good day" as your mantra and let me know what you discover. I look forward to your comments. Oh, and let me know what your favorite fall recipe is. Cooking is a spiritual practice, too.