Food, Fall and Nesting
Even before the leaves really begin falling, my nesting instincts surface.
"My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future."
Late summer signifies so much for me. It is the end of my favorite time of year. No matter how hot and humid, there is a freedom in summer not easily found in other seasons. They all have their beauty, but for me, summer is my go to time of year.
But it is late summer that takes me back to other days and reminds me that we women all have the instinct called "nesting".
When I was a little girl this time of year meant fall cleaning. To us modern gals that term might seem seriously outdated. And while I certainly don't go to the lengths my own mother (as well as her peers) did, there is an instinctual need to whip things into shape for the hunker down time which descends upon us all too soon.
Carpets need cleaning, curtains need washing, walls need painting, windows need washing. As a child I used to think it was my Mom being super organized and getting ready for the holidays. But since the entire regimen played out again just before Thanksgiving, I was left to decide that my mother (and her peers) were driven by some demon to have the cleanest house on the block.
In all actuality, I still have that same desire my mother had. Perhaps it was ingrained in me, but I think most of us want to slap things in shape after the lazy days of summer where a "lick and a promise" where housework is concerned, was enough.
Late summer reminds me also of my Mom's kitchen and the inevitable canning and freezing of vegetables and fruits. And the month of September was also when the dreaded fruitcakes began their journey toward Christmas gift giving. I have written stories about my mother's fruitcakes and the journey from September to Christmas that preparing and giving those dreadful things took.
My kitchen is a place where memories come back and where memories are made. I dont can or "put up' veggies or fruits as my Mom and aunts and grandmothers did. But I begin scouring my gazillion cookbooks for hearty, warming, comfort food that I know my family loves...food for our souls as much as our bodies.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a baker. I often say that the baking gene did not make it down in its pecking order to me. My mother, my aunts, my grandmothers..all loved to bake and were phenomenal bakers. Me? Not so much. In my opinon, flour is the devil. It's everywhere when I bake and no matter how hard I try to be neat, I always fail miserably.
But when fall arrives and those pioneer instincts begin to bubble up inside me, I try my hand at baking. I only do things I know I can do. And while they won't win any Betty Crocker awards, no one notices as they gobble down my Mom's famous Apple Pie courtesy of her age old cookbook.
And just like Pearl Bailey, in my kitchen there are reminders of the past which becomes the present and will, long after I am gone, carry into the future