Summer Collapses Into Fall


It’s undeniable. The shift has occurred, or the collapse as Oscar Wilde writes. All of the other seasons seem to creep in around the edges, but not fall. The leaves on the trees are green – and then suddenly they’re not. One day we’re swimming, the next we’re wearing polars and searching out a sunlit place to have our morning coffee.

There’s a poignancy to the fall. Smells and sounds are intensified and nostalgia runs deep. The crate of apples at the back door, the muskiness of freshly raked leaves, and the honking of the first geese to fly overhead is the stuff of poetry.


Even the clouds hang differently in the sky at this time of year: they are lower and heavier and seem to blanket the landscape.  And the chillier nights have fog snaking into the valleys waiting for the weakening sun to burn it off a bit later each day.


Fall is the last act of the seasonal play. Lucky for us, we all get to be actors in this final scene. For me, that means enjoying every mouthful of fresh produce while it is still available.


And spending as much time outdoors as possible.


Perhaps it’s knowing that the end is in sight that makes this last season all the sweeter. There’s no more looking forward, there is only now. And now is very, very generous.

Enjoy this transition to fall everyone!


Happy Solstice Everyone!

IMG_2712.JPGWild roses in the pre-solstice evening glow.

Here in the country we are very aware of celestial happenings. Most of us can identify the different moon phases and know the kind of light they shed on the nighttime landscape. Full moons, for instance, mean that events usually held in the day can be held at night. In  the summer months there are full moon kayak excursions on the river and hikes on the mountain trails. In winter, it is snowshoeing or cross country skiing by the light of the moon. By contrast, on the dark of the new moon we know to bring a flashlight on any nighttime meanderings. And so it goes each month and through all the seasons marking the passage of time by the phase of the moon or the position of the sun in the sky.

One of the two biggest solar events of the year happens today. Summer and winter solstices are both very different but both really significant and worthy of  celebration. The summer solstice happened at 12:24 am EDT this morning and marks the day with the longest sunlight hours of the year. The word solstice itself is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because at the solstice the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) momentarily comes to a stop before reversing direction. The pessimist in us might lament that it is all downhill from here. (I must admit this thought always surfaces for me at some point on this longest day.) However, the present moment beckons and with it the giddiness of this day filled with light.

I will be at a beautiful country setting overlooking fields and a lake this solstice evening eating outside with friends. I will probably return home before day turns into night but what better way to mark the longest day of the year than outside with friends.

Every solstice since I have lived on this country property I have gone outside and picked  the flowers that are blooming at just this time. My only criteria is that they have to be wild and beautiful. I always pick the pink roses that bloom on our property and along the road. I combine them with the feathery foliage of  an annoying weed like plant which is as robust and strong as the sun.


My bouquet this year is not really up to snuff: the torrential downpours and gale force winds yesterday got to the roses before I did. But it’s the thought that counts. Right?

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Rhubarb Reborn – A Recipe of Sorts


IMG_2658.JPGRhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Do you have a recipe or cooking technique that you discovered a long time ago and still use today? This is one of those for me: both a recipe and a technique that I haven’t seen improved upon since I discovered it way back in 1978.

Rhubarb is one of the first food plants to be harvested from gardens in these parts. It is not a true fruit but is prepared in kitchens as if it were. Rhubarb has been perfected as an ingredient in pies, cakes, crisps and cobblers (often in combination with strawberries) but the simplest preparation, commonly known as stewed rhubarb, has not traditionally been a very appetizing way to eat this fruit. It is often stringy and cooked into a sloppy mush that lacks the beauty and integrity of the real fruit with its firm red and green stalks.

Way back in June of 1978 from a publication at the time called Organic Farming and Gardening, I ran across this recipe called Rhubarb Reborn. (I wish I could give credit here to the person who contributed the article but I only have one very yellowed and food stained page.)  All I can say is that this recipe gave me a whole new rhubarb eating experience. Simple is often the best.  Trust me, this recipe will be in your repertoire for a long time.


Rhubarb Reborn – The Recipe

To make Rhubarb Reborn you will need about a pound of rhubarb stalks, so think about 4 cups of diced fruit. The recipe is easily adaptable as you’ll see so use whatever you have on hand. Don’t peel any of the stalks as the beautiful red adds colour to the prepared fruit. All the stalks need to be split lengthwise, even the very small ones. The large ones can be split four or six times. Each split section should be about 1/2 an inch wide. (This seems to prevent any stringiness.) Stack a bundle of the split stalks and slice about 1/4 inch wide. Now you are ready to measure your diced fruit and add honey. The proportion of sweetener to diced fruit is a matter of taste. For a tart sauce, use 2/3 cup of honey to four cups of diced fruit. For a sweeter, richer sauce use 2/3 cup of honey to two cups of diced fruit. I find the more tart version plenty sweet enough for my taste. The prepared fruit needs to soak  for at least an hour so all the cut surfaces can soak in the honey – a couple of hours is even better or overnight is ideal. You’ll notice that the juices from all those cut surfaces combines with the honey.


This part of the recipe is really important. Quickly bring the diced fruit to a simmer  and let it simmer for barely a minute.


Remove it from the heat and put on a lid. The fruit continues to soften in the hot syrup. Don’t overcook it. Et Voilà, finished! If you wish you could add some cinnamon or ground ginger for a little extra flavouring, but I like mine just like this.

IMG_2670.JPG The colour of the prepared rhubarb mimics the climbing honeysuckle in this picture.

This preparation freezes really well and looks and tastes the same unthawed as when originally prepared. It is delicious alone but can be added to yogourt or granola for a seasonal breakfast or eaten with ice-cream for a sweeter dessert later in the day. Add a tablespoon or so of the sweetened sauce  to a glass of sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink on the patio.

 IMG_2666.JPGThe sauce gives the sparkling water a beautiful pink hue.

Rhubarb Reborn can also be made unsweetened and used in meat sauces or other dishes. For this preparation cut it the same way but instead of honey simmer it in a few tablespoons of orange juice.

Do you have a favourite way of preparing rhubarb? I would love to hear about it.

A Wee Garden Tour

IMG_2575.JPGThe early morning sun shines on the vegetable garden.

We have a small vegetable garden close to the house that I often refer to as a kitchen garden. There are a number of great reasons to have a garden close to the house: ease of picking is one and the second being that we don’t need a fence to keep the deer from having a feast every night. The tall onion-like plants you see growing are the garlic that we planted last fall. They will be harvested when they start to yellow at the end of July. The tunnel is covering kale and broccoli plants.  They are hardy and don’t need the covering for warmth, but we are trying to keep the flea beetles from devastating them. Whatever we can’t grow in this garden we buy from organic growers in the area.

This garden is small by our standards because in the 1980’s we grew a few acres of vegetables in the sunlit field you see in the background of this photo. But that is a story for another time.

IMG_2612And, yes, we have flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

Our  flower gardens grew and expanded as we landscaped and tweaked the front of the house. We now have perennial flower gardens bordering the walkway leading to the house and beyond to a cliffside deck.


All of the shade loving plants had to go somewhere so we created another border on the shadier side of the lawn. The hostas loved the cold, rainy spring we had this year.


We also have a pool so adding more flowers there just seemed a natural landscaping solution at the time.  Add to that pots and planters and the walled garden by the driveway and you have a whole summer’s worth of beauty…and work!


Most days in the garden start and end at the brook: perfect for washing off muddy hands and feet. And for giving thanks.