The angle of the sun and the bowl of apples sitting on my table speak of the autumn that's coming, a whispered murmur growing bolder as the schoolchildren fill the playground next door and a leaf crinkles and spins, slowly falling from the tree outside my window. An occasional persimmon appears in the market, calling out to the pomegranates and pumpkins to hurry and catch up. The idea of braised meat is appealing again and out of the blue comes a craving to knit a scarf. But summer isn't done with us yet.
Summer's still here. I know this because the tomatoes are tumbling out from the market stalls like ripe, robust ambassadors of the sun -- so abundant now, they're a steal at one dollar less per pound than last week. And there's the stone fruit, too, with thick, jammy flesh and sugar-mottled skin. And enormous piles of cucumbers and zucchini and eggplants and corn and peppers, all flatly denying that the days are getting shorter.
This is a magical time, when one thing begins to slip into the other, briefly filling our hands with the bounty of both. My bowl of apples sits next to a rather lush heap of tomatoes and a vase full of fresh basil. Dinner tonight was a stir-fry of tomatoes, corn and zucchini and a chilled glass of while wine, and a slice of freshly made apple cake for dessert. My feet are bare and the window is wide open but I throw a heavier quilt on the bed as the fog drifts in a little earlier than usual.
This is a good time to pay close attention and listen for the sounds and tastes and messages of the changing seasons. There's poetry in everything and the heart can fill as quickly as the belly as the bright, bold gift of the harvest begins. Stay with it as long as you can, soak it up and let it fill every bit of you.
Go outside and lift your face to the sun. Eat tomatoes at every meal and put sweet corn and basil into every dish you possibly can, even dessert. Consider the dozens of uses for eggplant, grill peaches to eat with sweet cheeses and thyme, and make salsas from plums and chilies and lime. Sprinkle a little salt on a whole radish and pop it into your mouth.
Fill up. Drink deep. Taste everything. Autumn is coming.
(Image: Dana Velden)