August is about to wave ‘bye’. This month can be up and down and it has. I always look for the speck of autumn that is waiting on the other side of the Catalina Mountain range. I have written about this before, either in poems or essay. On Monday, the 21st when I let my kitties out early, the air was slight. Not heavy with the humidity that the recent half-hearted rains brought in. The impression was like a light step, bouncy almost. These mountains rise willfully to the northeast above the neighbor’s wall and a large Mesquite tree. This early Monday I noticed clouds were barely visible, snuggling up against the lower ridges of the mountain base.
I track this first sighting each year because, in my book, this is a simple ‘remark’ from Mother Nature that autumn is tossing us an invitation. High heat will roll back in for a few days, then wave ‘bye’. Temperatures begin to edge down, the light begins to change, and the character of fall picks up its step. The sky is no longer blanched looking like faded talcum powder. Blue begins to bite back.
Fall has been my favorite season since the very first time I can remember, perhaps at the age of four when my brother and I first sat on the front step of our parent’s tiny house in the country after a long summer of play and other activities. Mom pulled either a sweater or lightweight jacket over us to go outside.
Dark-weighted maple trees began their shedding one or two at a time and shortly by bucketful’s. Our collie was alongside my brother and me wherever we explored.
Down the hill, across a small ‘branch’, up another hill sat mom’s youngest sisters’ two-story farmhouse. Mom forbade me to go alone or at all without her, but guess what? I went alone, climbing over barbwire fences, splashed across the ‘branch’, up through a few of my uncles’ beehives, and into their big flat grassy yard. Their leaves were falling also, trees taller than ours and much more to rake up or blow away. All five cousins were bunched together in a room reading, and napping, or the three oldest ones outside running wild. I spent many hours while we lived side by side at that house, upstairs, and downstairs, laying under the large oak trees reading books on a blanket, sneaking across the gravel road to the barn, stained to the neck picking blackberries and the laughter of our folks playing cards in the kitchen.
Another sign that fall had landed is when mom moved the double wash tubs back onto the tiny back porch. There went our ‘poor man’s swimming pool.’
Our heat in Tucson is having its last hurrah and knows it. I have begun to sort out the empty pots where plants could not keep up with our summer heat, ordered a Home Depot reward points card to use at their nursery, and made a list to ‘re-do’ for the upcoming autumn parade. Once I jotted down my ‘cloud watching’, it motivates me to begin a big switch-up of cooking styles. I immediately pulled out my autumn recipes because I just can’t wait to filter through the flavors of fall to put on the table. I jumped the gun and decided to begin early.
Apples! – a must in fall cooking. Apple Hash is a superb accompaniment to a citrus herb glazed porkchop in cast iron.
2 Tbs grapeseed oil
2 cups thinly sliced Gold potatoes
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
Salt and pepper
2 cups cored and sliced Granny Smith
1 tsp Tabasco
Heat a large skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add potatoes, and cook, stirring, 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Add onion, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to caramelize. Remove, and keep warm. Add oil if needed, then apples. Cook for 4 minutes, until apples are cooked. Add potatoes and onion back in, add Tabasco, and stir.
Thank you for reading the last post for our month of August and thinking about your autumn ideas. Would love for you to share.