Autumn, 2012

Autumn is my favorite time of year… I love waking up to a chilly & foggy morning. The brisk air making easy the choice to wear a jacket during my commute to work. The jacket comes into my office with me, then it’s a lunch-time decision to wear it or carry it as I leave the building. Right now, the decision is mostly to carry it, and that suits me fine.

Our yard is the most treed in the neighborhood, dropping loads of brightly colored leaves that carpet our lawn, and blow all over the street. Two neighbor boys came one Saturday morning offering to clean up the yard. 15 giant lawn bags full of leaves later, they were exhausted and had completed only the front lawn! We haven’t seen the boys since. The dogs enjoy romping around in the leaves, and Buster (wiener dog) charges bravely/foolishly through drifts of leaves that are taller than he is.

I like coming home to a warm house. Even if the day, which started crisp, has turned warm enough to doff the jacket, I still enjoy the waft of warmth when I arrive home.

This cool weather causes the animals — all 10 of them — to crave warmth and become cuddly. Our newest kitten, Eunice, has recently discovered the pleasure and warmth of going “under” — that is, climbing under the covers in bed, and snuggling securely in the crook of an arm, or the bend of a knee. She has not — yet — learned that the Sparkle Ball toy (which she adores) must be abandoned before climbing into bed. Or perhapswe haven’t learned to put them away at night, as Eunice woke us up at 3:30a by playing with the toy. In bed. Between our heads.

Fall foods are among my favorites. Roasting and braising are practically mandated cooking methods during autumn — that can be easily interpreted as proof that nature endorses foods prepared that way. (My culinary students will testify to my instruction for roasting root vegetables — “Roast diced root vegetables until you think they’re done (turning frequently for even color). When you think they’re done, leave them in 5 minutes more. Repeat.”) Soups of the season become more hearty, and stews — not invited to summer events — make their appearance. I have not yet had “enough” pumpkin/butternut this year, so look forward enthusiastically to using those ingredients. Long cooking times (roasting & braising, etc.) perfume the kitchen with great smells.

Among the seasonal Cincinnati traditions that we enjoy and anticipate, I am excited about the annual Over The Rhine Christmas show at the Taft Theater. After hosting their after-party for several years, I needed to take last year off, but am back at the helm this year and looking forward to it very much. I’ve invited an out-of-town friend to join me for those events, which will provide his introduction to the band.

Soon comes the winter and I am not excited about that at all. But for now, autumn suits me just fine.