Friday, September 29, 2017

Bye Bye, Summer

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Well, after a last week of September with temperatures upward of 90 degrees each day, fall has at last descended. My husband spent a good part of the early day closing the pool. But not before Evie, our mutant springer spaniel, had a last dip and doggie paddle laps retrieving a ball. It feels odd looking out from our screened-in deck over the ugly green pool cover, which looks somewhat like a humongous green mushroom in place of clear water against the blue-tiled effect of the pool wall. It’ll be a while before I get used to the sight. Before the cover comes off, though, snow will transform the mushroom into an enormous cake with white icing.

Fall is an absolutely beautiful season here in southern New England, where the foliage can be breathtaking in colors of fire and ocher, red and fading green. Leaf peepers from out of state or out of area make it difficult to get away for weekend trips, as our favorite inn in Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” is always booked solid. But why go anywhere when, all around our yard, colors blaze under a crystal blue sky in the last hurrah of summer sun and dry autumn air? Our little veggie garden remains vital, vines heavy with ripening tomatoes; peppers; chard, and herbs. Soon they’ll wither and die in the shortening hours of daylight and chilly nights. But for the next couple of weeks, they’ll continue to ripen.

photo by Tim Brown
I don’t exactly hate autumn. Why should I? The weather’s penchant for perfection rivals only those days in early June when the sun is warming, nourishing; the world is finally green again after a long winter and filled with the fragrance of wild roses. Our garden shows promise in June, and that promise leads to the gastronomic anticipation of perfectly ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil and a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction. Those promises are only now being fulfilled.

I’ll miss summer. It’s my favorite season and always has been. Maybe it has something to do with those days way back when. As a kid, I hated the end of summer, the conclusion of those active, fun filled days spent outdoors from morning till night (with time out for lunch) and then after supper until dusk transitioned into dark and one-by-one we’d each follow the sound of our mother’s voice calling us home. There were fireflies and fireworks, days and the beach and barbecues, baseball games and cousin parties.

Following my public school days, I spent seven of the next nine years in college and graduate school getting a BFA and an MFA, then four of the next six years either teaching or living in an academic environment. My life from five until fourty-something revolved mostly around a school calendar. I loved having my kids at home all day during their summer breaks when they were young, even with the seemingly endless pool parties, the trails of wet feel and dripping bathing suits through the house, the platters of PBJ and tuna sandwiches, watermelon slices and ice cream cones. My husband, who taught theater in middle and high school, retired last June after 39 years. The end of summer fills me with sadness and nostalgia.

Seasons come and go so quickly these days. That is a drawback to getting older, I suppose. Where does the time go? The kids are grown, the grandson recently turned five, and the zucchinis and summer squash are spent. Soon we’ll have a frost and children in Wonder Woman and Kylo Ren costumes will come around for tricks or treats. 

Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know, and all too shortly afterwards, we’ll celebrate the beginning of a New Year. It’ll be cold for months. Snow will pile up, and I’ll dress in multiple layers, thick, warm socks and sheepskin boots. Spring won’t come soon enough…and then it’ll be fall again 😒

In the meanwhile, I will savor my Caprese Salad with the warm, juicy, delicious taste of summer.

photo from The Pioneer Woman
Recipe for Caprese Salad

2 Large red, vine-ripened tomatoes (preferably freshly picked) thickly sliced

1 ½ Cups balsamic vinegar

10 oz. mozzarella (preferably fresh) thickly sliced

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Olive oil to drizzle

Salt and pepper to taste

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan for 10 – 20 minutes over medium-low heat until it’s a thick syrup. Pour into a small bowl or cruet to cool.

On a platter, alternate slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction. Garnish with basil leaves.



Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad,  an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her BWL Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book from a variey of online retailers, and in paperback.

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