Fall has come upon us again.
These past few months have been dazzling and fast — moving to a new home; getting married; learning how to market a book; going on our honeymoon to Italy; planning a book tour. We have been laughing through it all. And panting. I never imagined that so much could happen, in three short months.
I love the richness of summer, the ripe succulence of every fruit, the endless blue sky a mile high up, the feeling that everything is possible. Who is going to turn down summer?
Summer? Go bye-bye now, please.
I’m so happy that the light is fading from the sky in the early evenings now. Butternut squashes will thump hollow on the farmers’ markets tables soon. Leaves along Lake Union are starting to hue and cry into brilliant orange and red, before fading and falling. The world feels smaller now.
Sometimes, it’s best to remember that not everything is possible.
Slow moments are the ones that stay with me the most.
But there haven’t been many slow moments around here. We are in planning mode — what about a restaurant for Los Angeles? I should put up a new recipe soon; okay, if I sit in front of the computer for three hours I could make a dent in those 348 emails I have to answer — and we are a little exhausted. The Chef debuted a new menu on Friday, and I am bringing out a book this Friday. We both feel on the precipice of new life.
(And thank you, thank you to those of you who received your copies early and wrote to me to say how much you loved the book. Those emails kept me going.)
But all this planning has left us a touch weary. Here’s a conundrum: we are working and whirling, both of us not sleeping through the night sometimes (I have nightmares now that only three people will show up at a reading, and seven people will buy the book), to build the kind of life we want to live. We want to live in our little house, grow vegetables in the garden, have children, travel when we can, and spend the rest of our time cooking and writing. Small. Simple. Slow.
Lately, we have been rushing to slow down.
Yesterday, the Chef turned to me and said, “Let’s have a fire tonight.”
I could have written another forty-five emails. I could have written a new recipe down (that one for bacon-potato gratin we both loved). Oh, and there are still more honeymoon pieces to come.
But yesterday, we remembered: we’re only living this day once. Let’s slow down and taste it.
We stayed in bed until nearly four. That’s right — four in the afternoon. We read the entire Sunday paper, ate eggs and sausage, watched a movie, and then all the dvd extras. We lay down and talked, and the conversations weren’t intended to solve anything or lead us anywhere. We were silly and lazy and in heaven.
Later, we meandered, to the grocery store, stopping to look at the yellowy light tinging the grey-clouded sky. The sun is setting earlier, the rain is gathering strength, the air feels falsely warm on first touch and chilled underneath. We both love it.
Time to slow down.
And when we returned home, the Chef built us a fire.
When we first stepped foot in this house, we saw the fireplace, and we said yes. But it has not been cold enough to have one yet. I grew up near Los Angeles. The fireplace was mostly decoration. But the Chef grew up in Colorado, and for a brief time he lived in a mountain cabin with no heat or running water. He knows how to build a fire.
Once he coaxed the kindling to giving up heat and flames, we sat down on the wooden floor before it. We turned off all the lights and we watched. Hisses and cracks, the settling logs sighing into empty space, the flames emerging and dancing toward the back, black spots on wood slowly sinking and cracking in two, and the earthy pungent smell of sharp woodsmoke up our noses. After a few moments, I simply lay my head upon his shoulder and let go.
Of course, life rarely stays that perfect for long. The Chef is chronically inflexible, and sitting with his legs crossed leaves him creaky. We wanted to eat dinner before the fire, so he moved into the kitchen to begin it. Within a few moments, smoke wafted the wrong way, out of the fireplace, and all the over-sensitive smoke alarms in the house started shrieking. We were flapping dish towels and opening the front door to let the cold air roar in.
(Turns out we cannot run the fan above the stove and have a fire at the same time. Who knew?)
But the fire kept going. Dinner drew us back before it. The Chef lay a plate before me: oven-roasted pork chops, quinoa cooked with sunflower seeds and champagne vinaigrette; steamed broccoli and sea salt. This dinner? It wouldn’t win any awards for haute cuisine. I didn’t take any photographs. We simply sat in front of the fire and sighed into our food, and the grace of being together.
It was an imperfect evening. We left the dishes in the sink after dinner. I had baking to do for a possible book appearance, and I didn’t begin it until nearly midnight. There were even more emails to answer after an entire day of ignoring them.
But, as the Chef likes to repeat back to me, after I told him my favorite line from a Mary Oliver poem: “What in this life is perfect?”
We leave for the book tour on Thursday night, at 11:50 pm. The rest of the autumn is filled with delicious possibilities, meals to be savored in several different cities, and all these lovely people to meet. We will be moving fast again.
However, it was just so lovely to slow down and pay attention to fall, for one day.
And when the seasons shift, it’s time for a change here too. For weeks, I have been working with dear Kaytlyn to re-design this site. If you feel like it, slow down and explore.
If you click on the photo of the two of us, you’ll find an essay I have been drafting for days. It’s the story of this website, my life, our lives together, and why I write what I write here.
The recipe site looks spiffy now. The rest of the recipes will be cataloged soon.
And there’s a book tour calendar over there on the right. You can follow along with us, and join us (please!) as we make our way through these dazzling days.