Spring heralds hope. We skip around with light hearts, juggling asparagus stalks and lilac bunches, warbling happy songs while sliding frothy food on the table.

Autumn is heavier. Especially when you try to lift a gigantic squash or pumpkin. In addition to the back pain, I find the harvest season lends itself
to contemplation and quietude.

autumnEating mindfully allows us to think deeply about the past year, not only in terms of the food we have eaten, but also our own journey. In my case, I had victories and defeats in the kitchen (I am trying to forget the corned beef pickle pasta which sank to a new nadir in dining) and also, pandemic-related depressions, tantrums and general nuttiness. (Did I really weep at the Safeway pharmacy because my prescription wasn’t ready? And will those poor young pharmacists be scarred for life?)

This past year has not been fun. It is hard to be upbeat about heartbreak, pestilence, corruption and Buttergate. Come on, even butter has problems?

Onward! Rich orange, red, rust, yellow and cinnamon vegetables warm the soul as the days get colder. September challenge: cook an entirely orange hued meal. After so many grim and colourless months, let’s party.

There is nothing like a jolly pumpkin as a table centerpiece. My only caveat is not to get too fond of a cute pumpkin with an endearing felt pen face, because then it hurts too much to say goodbye. Many tears have been shed in my household over cooked pumpkin. We felt heartless.

But hey, unlike the pumpkin, we survived. (Some of us even survived my cooking.) We can contemplate the past year, and look forward to some sort of closure and a shift to better times.

Sure, I blubbered when my computer crashed, I thought I was going to die after my second COVID vaccination, the dust bunnies piled up in my condo, while dishes piled up in the kitchen. Obsessing about dinner became my major creative outlet. Next step: autumnal feasts.

Here is my cheat sheet of harvest recipes:

  • Hire a sous chef to hack up that spaghetti squash, pop it into the oven with a shamefully excessive amount of butter and garlic, sit and listen to Ella Fitzgerald for an hour or so. Then revel in every single golden strand
  • Introduce a butternut squash to a few apples. Dress them up in curry and chicken broth. Let them dance on the stove while you write a harvest poem. Enjoy.
  • Find some large carrots with lots of personality. Chuck them into a roaster in the oven, and tell them they are on their own.
  • Throw a cute little frying chicken in the oven, with every spice you can find, as consolation for the sensory deprivation you may have felt these past months. Fall (bonus!) allows you to fill the oven with everything in sight, as opposed to standing over the stove, stirring and sobbing disconsolately. Put your feet up and write a novel instead. Play online scrabble! Or dance!

So hey, harvest! Bring it on!