October 2011 Newsletter – The Season of Memories

“ ‘Everything has its time,’…quoting the mantra of the contadino, the philosophy of those who work with and respect the land. And just as the best moment for in-season food is now, when it’s fresh off the plant, so the best moment for our-of-season food is also now…preserving it in vinegar or oil, suspending a little piece of summer in time to savour amid the winter chill: making non-seasonal eating seasonal after all.”
–A Year In the Village of Eternity by Tracey Lawson

In her book, Tracey Lawson notes that you can tell what month of the year it is by the aromas of spices used primarily in the food that month. As we enter into autumn my thoughts turn to falling leaves and pumpkins. Spending many years in Connecticut, my memories resound of children playing on the tire swing hanging from the several-hundred-year-old oak tree in our back yard during the frequent raking of leaves -always requiring a final raking the first week of December.

Pumpkins are such a stimulus to the memory senses, from the aroma of pumpkin pie coming out of the oven, to the squishy feeling of pumpkin-innards between my fingers to separate the seeds for toasting. Besides the usual visuals of children drawing and cutting faces on their pre-selected pumpkins, I also recall the visual of our puppy gleefully running across the back yard with the total satisfaction of dragging the now-severed pumpkin vine with the still-attached pumpkins bouncing behind her.

Our senses stir up memories, taking us back to our childhoods, recalling the baking and eating of foods relative to our heritage, the family members gathered, the pets we had, the places we lived. I’m not sure that we would all agree on the “age” which most accurately describes the “autumn” of our life. I do think that what is important is to recall and honor those memories.

When I read Tracey’s reminder that the best moment for in-season food is now, I think too, that now, in the present moment, is the best time make memories with our loved ones and friends. Now is the time to appreciate what we have, and who we have in our lives to share our years and days. Now is the time to be together and nurture camaraderie and relationships. Many people are experiencing the loss of loved ones, jobs, homes and opportunities. Many people find their lives turned up-side-down. What constant can we look to amidst all the change and chaos?  I think the answer lies with ‘people.’ When we are not alone, when there is even one person to whom we can confide, we tend to have more courage, will and hope.

As Tracey speaks to preserving the best of summer to “savor amid the winter chill,” I liken this process to recalling the good times, and even documenting those memories that hearten us in times of loss or hardship. When we look through photos or watch old videos of our life it helps us to reflect, to savor pieces of our past that we hold so dear. Our stories and memories are also the legacies to preserve for others. The autumn of our lives is a good time for this reflection – and our senses helps us reminiscence.