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The weather was spectacular yesterday. I'm going to ignore my twinge of guilt as i think about all the folks who were snarled in the air traffic disrupting weather. Summer is so stifling here: i must celebrate the crisp, blue sky day. Christine and i sat in the deck in the sun; its bright touch was not particularly warming. The sun glistened off the needles of the tall yellow pines, the wind surged in the tree tops, sounding like ocean waves crashing on a distant shore.
I do love our yellow pines, even as i grumble about the shade and ponder their deaths over the next decades. When i drive around the area i marvel at the oaks this year: the freeze we had in early November must have come at just the right time to trigger color. Mahogany reds, a range of saturated yellows to golds to oranges: i'm so used to oak tree leaves being dull brown. We don't have any good sized oaks: the large trees here are the tulip poplars, that drop black leaves early in the autumn, the black cherries, whose leaves just seem to disappear while i'm raking the tulip poplars up, and sweet gums, whose colors in the full genetic spectrum don't frequently pull the dramatic garnets and flames of the trees planted as landscape trees.
The tulip poplars and the black cherry have much to commend them despite the lack of fall color. The sweet gums i will thin so the slower growing oaks can have a chance to mature. I'll be planting another beech tree this winter, which won't provide much fall color, but the persimmon and sassafras should. I want to plant sumac once i find a vendor: that too should glow with color in the fall.
I wonder if i can find a shade loving native small tree or shrub that has autumn color.
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I imagine in five years or so making plans with my sister that we have home-grown Thanksgiving. This year, she brought a feast to Mom and Dad's: salad, multiple vegetable sides, potatoes, dressing, a whole Turkey. It's the type meal my mother would have put on the table. She confided as i was leaving that she realized that it was crazy to do such a massive meal -- incredibly demanding on the hostess -- and she wouldn't be doing it again. I suppose she's been doing the big meals with my mother the past few decades, while i was in California doing minimalist meals, and now -- without my mother to be in a position to direct and insist -- the big feast isn't necessary. So she had a time of mourning, but she isn't going to do the big production again.
Over the years, Christine's holiday-phobia crashed up against my mother's standard of tradition, and the debris sifted through the straits of my depression. I do like to take the holiday time to do some special cooking, but not to feast. My family's performance of traditional celebration lacked a emotional grounding to which i could connect. If we didn't have some of my mother's extended family present, there would be arguments. It we did, there would be the sniping, alcohol, and unpleasantness.
It seems my sister is just now able to step away from the structure my mother enforced. In retrospect, i see my mother's holiday preparations as the way she could connect without engaging. She lost herself in all her elaborate preparations, hid from engaging with the rest of the family that way. It was her way to communicate love and care, and i honor that in her actions. But it was also dysfunctional. I remember my great aunt's kitchen from one holiday or another, and the sense of community in the kitchen. Visiting, story telling and sharing, love. My mother's kitchen was never like that, not a place of shared time together, but a carefully staged place of production. It was work.
Now that both my sister and i are beginning to have gardens that produce, i imagine a harvest meal with small servings of flavors from our gardens. A quiche or two with eggs from my sister's kitchen. A soup from re-hydrated summer produce. Potatoes or winter squash. I'd be delighted to be able to make a hibiscus jam to provide a tart-sweet relish. Pickles, maybe. I can imagine the stories and sharing that could come from a harvest meal.
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I did make the vegan pepperoni, consulting many recipes but in particular http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2008/03/homemade-vegan-pepperoni.html . It's a wheat gluten/seitan protein -- there is one recipe that involves tofu rolled out and baked for the gluten free choice. Christine was delighted with it: she did note that the garlic note was missing and would be OK to introduce. (Generally, Christine prefers to not have garlic flavors.) My sister and her husband have the alpha-gal mammal protein allergy: they appreciated the pepperoni as well. It's not super red, which is apparently due to sodium nitrite in cured meat. I didn't add tomato paste but molasses: next time i will add tomato paste in hopes of more red (without going to red food dye.) Maybe more paprika, as well.