There’s much boo-hoo-hooing in the news about the lack of hot weather this summer. Specifically, there’s boo-hooing about the amount of rain we’ve had – apparently the most on record for a summer, and the summer’s not over yet. I’m sorry, I can’t commiserate. Other than the humidity (which would be with us even if it was hot), I’m enjoying the summer – and the rain. Trees are green, gardens are lush, lake levels are almost back up to normal after last year’s drought. And it feels as if we’ll actually have a real autumn, not like last year when we were all cooking Thanksgiving dinner in the 35′C heat, then two weeks later the snow started.
This past weekend was wet – and cool. A couple of days it didn’t even break 20′C, and nights have been down to 12′C or so. Which means mornings require a sweater or jacket to walk the dogs, and mornings after a night of rain have that subtle chill, combined with the smell of rotting leaves that invariably says fall.
Just as there’s a day each winter when there’s a promise of spring, there’s a day toward the end of summer, when the smell and feel of fall is in the air.
At the market, summer fruit is still plentiful, but I’m losing my enthusiasm for berries. Hard to believe – in June, it’s easy to swear that I’ll eat them every day until I make myself allergic. But displayed alongside freestone peaches, those tiny sweet, still-hard little green pears and the first early apples, a girl can become fickle and allow her thoughts to turn to fall foods like apple pies, hearty soups full of squash or beans, or a nice braised cabbage. I want to dig out sweaters with long unravelling sleeves that I can pull down over cold fingers.
It’s not that I don’t love the fruits of summer – it’s probably the only things about summer that I do love, to be honest – but the fatigue is starting to set in. Sure, I’ll miss the corn and melons and tomatoes that have actual flavour, but summer cooking is always about making the quickest dish possible so you can get out of the hot kitchen. And as an apartment dweller, there is no lure of the grill that makes summer about burgers and steak and melmac dishes for me.
The clincher came at the market on Sunday. After loading up on strawberries, raspberries, cherries and melons, we walked past a bushel basket of lumpy orange squash on our way out.
Smell that? Fall’s coming.