Surely you've noticed by now: Fall has arrived.
It came last week, in a single moment, as it always does. When I drove my grandson Lucas to school that morning, the light and scents of summer bathed us.
But when I walked outside later that afternoon, everything had changed. There was that familiar chill at the heart of the day's heat and a golden glow tinted the chestnut orchard that descends toward Atascadero Creek west of my little cottage.
The chestnuts themselves glimmered in the light and their halo of green leaves shimmered with a luminosity I never see in, say, June, July or even early August.
The singular beauty of this moment tugged at my heart as it does each year; feelings of loss, regret and melancholy flooded my veins and tears tickled my cheeks.
Hello, old friend, I said out loud. As always, you've come too soon. I'm not ready.
And so it is, year after year. Fall descends before we are ready to let go of the long leisurely days of summer, triggering a cascade of atavistic responses, gifts from our ancestors who struggled to survive the cold, lean months of winter and early spring.
Life is easier for us: A simple switch gives us light, a turn of a knob gives us heat, a trip to the market fills our pantry and quells our hunger.
But what heals our hearts? We haven't been defended against the seasons long enough for our emotional responses to have evolved and so we greet fall with more complicated feelings than any other season.
What's to be done? Nothing, really. I recommend simply taking time to appreciate the seasonal transformation and the fragile beauty of nature sinking down into herself for rest and rebirth.
And then curl up by the year's first fire, sip something rich and warm, read a good book, savor the last of summer's harvest. Before long, it will all begin again.
This is one of my favorite combination of flavors, and it is essential to marinate the cooked potatoes in lemon juice for a bit; don't omit this step.