You may have heard me waxing not-very-poetic on the Colin McEnroe show last month about the many joys of fall in New England. I always feel like I’m babbling incoherently whenever I do a live bit on the CMS, so as I sit here now, warming some apple cider and cinnamon on the stove, I thought I’d put together some of my more coherent thoughts regarding Autumn.
As I pointed out on Colin’s show, I love sweaters. They are snuggly in a way that a tank-top could never be. They allow me to display my inner-Puritan by covering up from the chin down, and most importantly, I look good in them. You see, those of us who are pale all year round don’t exactly look great in hot-pants and tube tops. Nope, we just blind people. Even if we weigh 50 lbs less than the Snooki standing next to us, we just look awful when too much of our flesh is revealed. In a nice turtleneck, however, we get to flaunt our flawless, peaches and cream complexions.
Mmmmm…peaches and cream… This brings me to my next favorite thing about fall: vegetables. The spring is great for the sudden onslaught of berries. One side of my mother’s house has been taken over by strawberries and blackberries, and for a few weeks every spring I have all the fresh, local, free berries I can eat. The thing about those spring goodies, though, is that if you don’t eat (or freeze/preserve) them rather quickly, they turn to mush. But fall and winter crops are a different story. These are the vegetables that spent all winter in our ancestor’s root cellars just waiting to be consumed. My favorite of these vegetables is the butternut squash — the best of all the squashes, in my humble opinion — and I have been working on ways to use this hardy gem other than in soup or just roasting it. This weekend I did the unthinkable and took Rachael Ray’s advice and made a butternut squash and sausage lasagna (or three). The first one came out fine, but when I had some leftover ingredients I decided to make another one, and toss some wilted spinach into the sausage layer…and that was way better. Now if I can get the PrissyBitch and her pasta machine to cooperate, I’m gonna try butternut squash ravioli.
And let us not forget the apple. Not only can you leave a good, fresh apple on the counter or in the fridge for weeks, you can do so many amazing things with them — not the least of which is cider. At this moment, I’m drinking Farmer’s Cow cider with some cinnamon sprinkled in it.
If butternut is my favorite of the squashes, then cinnamon is my most beloved spice. Did you know it helps regulate your blood sugar? I think I love it so much, in part, because of its association with fall. Whether its on the outside of an apple fritter — dear god…how I love those things — a pumpkin donut, a pie, or on top of my apple sauce, I love cinnamon.
All this talk of food brings me to country and harvest fairs. From the Hebron Harvest Fair to the Big E there are more fried, doughy goods with sugar and cinnamon on them than my little heart can handle. I’m not really into deep-friend Snickers bars or crap like that — partly because I feel like this deep frying everything phenomenonn is newish and I don’t like new things. (As I once told the Gay Guru, I don’t eat junk food that didn’t exist when I was a kid because they have to keep making stuff more and more disgusting to create something new.) I also like to stand outside the cow barn at the Hebron Fair and watch city-slickers get peed on… No really, that is one of the simplest pleasures in life.
Also on that list of simple pleasures is decorating your front yard for the fall. I’m not particularly a fan of Halloween decorations, but I do love mums, cornstalks, a hay bale or two, and some gourds. Throw some Indian corn in there and I might actually squeal. Most seasonal decorations are tacky and consume a ridiculous amount of energy (like those blow-up Santas on front lawns across America), but there is something really nice about suburban America collectively agreeing to pretend like they live on a farm, and decorating their steps with all the aforementioned items.
This weekend’s weather was what makes living in New England worth it. In January when I’m driving by gray snow, and looking forward to the first daffodils and tulips of spring, or in July when I am laying motionless on the couch for the third, sweaty day in a row, I know that April-May and September-October are what keep me here. These 65 degree days when we can put on a light sweater and open the windows, and these 50 degree nights when we can put on fleece pajamas and snuggle under the covers are what keep most of us from succumbing to S.A.D. and moving to San Diego.
I’ve still got a couple of autumnal adventures ahead of me before the cold and the rain really set in, which includes a couple more fairs, and a trip up to Kent to take Yankee’s advice. But I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm any longer…