Quarterly Review: Looking Back on July-September

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This morning we woke to fog laying low and heavy and thick—so thick that streams of rain tears ran down the window screens from fog droplets clinging there in the mesh. Later, when the pup and I walked under trees on the trail that runs past our favorite farmhouse, it sounded of rain when the wind bowed down leaves full of fog weight that had gathered into small green pools in their tiny cups.

On mornings such as these, everything magical and mystical feels real and close, like a lover returned or wintered fingers feeling fire warmth after a long day. And I suddenly felt sad for all the bodies still in bed, still inside, still bundled up in sleep who were missing the night waving in the morning, taking with him his thick coat of mist. 

Fall is here, and with it comes the turning and dying of the earth, the breathing in of the last, the giving up of the ghost. Here is a chance to look upon each day with the eyes of a child, to wonder at a leaf reddening, to inhale wet ground deeply, to stand still in autumn wind. 

All of it is grace, and so we rejoice in it.

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And so, just like that, after a summer of endless toasts slathered with mayo and piled high with fresh tomatoes flecked with salt, breakfasts of fresh fruit, and dinners of crudites platters, the urge to crank up the stove and labor over dough and boiling pots and forever failing pastry finally returned. 

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On Sunday morning, after cups of coffee and a walk with the pup, we layered sweatshirts and headed to Barthel Fruit Farm to pick a few apples and sample pastries from the bakery truck. Fearing the rain when we got there, we opted for bags of pre-picked apples and dodged the dripping canopy of the bakery truck while we waited for fresh, hot apple cider donuts.

Mouths full of cinnamony, fried dough, we remembered the plum trees, looked at each other, headed back into the barn for a bag to pick our own.

We returned home with bellies still full of donuts to spend most of the late morning and afternoon in the kitchen poaching pears, baking a tart, mixing together almond shortbread muffins, and cutting up apples for a quick crisp served warm with ice cream. In a burst of ambition, high off the joy I always forget comes from putting hands to useful work, I took a stab at starting a batch of preserved lemons, pickling a whole jar of garlic, and weighing out portions for a sourdough starter. I can already taste the tangy sourdough pizza crust, see Moroccan stews studded with bright bits of sour lemon. 

By the time we sank into the couch late Sunday night, we sat contentedly, feeling ourselves settling into the new season, into fall and the darling of a time she is. After a summer of beach trips, reading outside, visiting family, drinking our way through several more breweries, meeting a new nephew, eating our weight in fresh produce, I can’t think of a better way to close out the season than by welcoming the next.

In the meantime, here’s a picture look back over the past three months.

Books Completed

Although our summer was full and happy and wonderful, I snuck reading into lunch breaks, early mornings, nighttime before the eyes drooped, and weekend inbetweens when the bread toasted for tomato sandwiches. So many moments of every day hold snippet opportunities to escape into a page.

But, by far, my favorite reading time is early morning. With a cup of coffee, maybe a bowl of yogurt with berries, or a piece of buttered toast, a book transports before the day even begins. The books I read over the past three months were a beautiful bunch, some funny, some cathartic, some convicting, some inspiring. Out of the ones listed below, only two were disappointing: When You Read This and The Turn of the Key

That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist by Sylvia Boorstein
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxanne Gay
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
When You Read This by Mary Adkins
The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down by Abigail Pesta
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas 
Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking by Jason Logan
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Shame-Less: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Family of Origin by CJ Hauser

So much waits for us in pages of others’ thoughts and stories. Books help us build our own thoughts and stories but, most importantly, they provide an opportunity for us to practice compassion, to learn a new point of view, to humble ourselves and admit that our experience doesn’t represent the whole.

Looking Ahead

As we near the end of another year, it’s all to easy to get caught up in the shoulds and must-dos, in preparations and calendar filling. As much as I love the holiday season, it often ends up a disappointment when exhaustion takes over. This year, I’m hoping to walk into this season with fewer expectations, to see and experience life as it comes, to continue learning, to be kind to myself and others, to remember, again, that all is grace.

In Your Corner,
Angelina Danae