By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Today has been my kind of Midwest October day: sunny, cool, and breezy. If I had to choose among the four seasons we enjoy in the Midwest, my favorites would be spring and autumn. After awakening from a winter sleep, spring days greet me with leaves unfurling, blossoms on the pink crabapple tree, and with crocus and grape hyacinths rousing their purple heads. It is the Earth’s renewal as the days grow longer, and cheery sunshine abounds. Yet as the dog days of summer exact their toll, I begin to notice the maple trees that line my street take on colors other than that of green. In this early October, now the trees are brimming with leaves of fiery red, yellow, and orange hues. The Burning Bush has taken on a decidedly deep red tone. Even the Red Twig Dogwood is showing a sign that its thin branches will turn bright red and remain so throughout the winter months, brightening the snowy white landscape. Sunset now is earlier than it was even a month ago. It is akin to suddenly a nightshade being pulled down to darken a room for sleep.
My thoughts turn on these crisp air-laced days to cooking thick soups, casseroles, and even to coffee, which I rarely drink, inveterate green tea drinker that I am. In fact, one of my beloved dense Italian soups with white beans, pearl barley, and assorted vegetables is simmering away in the slow-cooker as I write. Yesterday morning I arose with a spring in my step and a hankering for baked oatmeal. Putting on the kettle for tea, I turned to my favorite recipe – a modification of one my dear sister-in-law Kelley gave me some years ago. Sadly, as I pawed through the pantry and then through the refrigerator shelves, I realized there was no applesauce to be had, nor could I locate the drum of Quaker Oats. The morning suddenly seemed skewed. Outside the skies were overcast, and by the time I left the house to meet a friend for an overpriced drink at Starbucks, it was raining. An hour or so later, after bidding my chum goodbye, I made the supreme effort to go do a bit of grocery shopping, a task I rank only slightly above laundry, dusting, and vacuuming. In other words, I detest it. Even with an umbrella in hand, by the time I loaded the groceries into the car, and then unloaded them from the trunk upon arrival home, I was drenched. The pouring rain, the heavy winds, and looming darkness combined for good reasons to hunker settle in at home, don comfy clothes, and spend the weekend writing and cooking.
Yes, life in the Midwest is good in early autumn.
Ciao for now.