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Signs of Fall

Saturday, April 16, 2011


That’s right, people: it’s April, and it’s fall.

I don’t think I’m getting over this any time soon.  I know it’s the same old story about “normal” being relative– my season-month correlation only holds true in the Northern Hemisphere — but somehow it’s easier for me to accept the relativity of almost anything else.  I wrote my sister a birthday card as I munched on a freshly picked apple, and I thought, but Alice’s birthday is in the spring!  How did that change?  (By the way, this inverse-seasons thing makes finding teaching materials about the months of the year difficult, because the songs I find show a beach for July and a snowman for January, which I’m afraid will only confuse my younger students.)

I’ve also noticed that more people here know about the American seasons — and America in general — than Americans know about anything Chilean, and it’s not hard to understand way.  Holidays like Christmas have the stamp of the Northern Hemisphere (really, of the US and Europe); I am told Santa Claus wears a snowsuit in malls in Santiago in December, even though it’s summer.  Similarly, I was eating pizza and drinking good, cheap Chilean wine with a group of friends last night when Donald Trump came on the news.  Afterward, everyone asked me what I thought about the 2012 presidential election.  I doubt more than one or two of my friends at home could name the current president of Chile, let alone hopefuls for the next election. It was the same story when I was in Mexico for the 2008 election; for example, my host brother texted me to congratulate me on Obama’s victory, given that he, too, had stayed up with friends to watch the results come in.  In the US, we can learn about other countries if it strikes our fancy, but we have the privilege not to need to; we are the giant, and we don’t even feel the gaze of the world upon us.  When I said that last night, my friend responded, “Well, what happens in the US effects us.  And besides, you just change things here if you see fit.”  As we both laughed, I responded, “That’s certainly what the record shows!”  From what I’ve experienced, Chileans are better than Americans at separating people from government, so we can talk about the CIA and the Allende –> Pinochet saga without any tone of accusation.

But back to fall.   Here are the apples in my backyard.  I’ve probably made apple pancakes close to a dozen times, as well as apples cooked in oatmeal, apple crisp, and in line with my obsession last fall — i.e. September and October in Massachusetts — apples and caramelized onions, in a grilled cheese or in scrambled eggs.  Yum.

I predict that August will be tough month for me here– I will be back to work after vacation, back to building fires and freezing rain and even snow, while every other year of my life August has been the month of summer relaxation, specifically enjoying vacation with my family in Maine.  But why am I worrying about the future?  Today I enjoyed a gorgeous walk through the woods, and came back to my cozy house and cozy fire to make this dinner:

I’ve got hard boiled eggs over high heat directly over the fire, swiss chard and onions on low heat on the right, and roasted cauliflower and garlic in the oven.  By the way, my fire-making skills have improved to the point that I now feel like it’s only question of time until it ignites.  It also helps me to cook while I’m starting the fire, probably because chopping an onion makes me feel competent, unlike just staring at my little sculpture of cardboard and kindling and praying it will light.

And I’ve decided that if it’s fall, then I’m going to do fall right, which in addition to apples, means pumpkin baked goods, such as this pumpkin bread I made Thursday night (and divied up packages to share!).  I used roasted zapallo, a giant, green-skinned squash that’s sold by the slice. I started with this recipe, but used 1/3 less sugar, added some chopped walnuts (thank you, Mom!), and baked a half-recipe in a big glass dish.  This time I managed the fire so that it cooked perfectly.

And coming soon: winter!  Notice the red just below the snow — another sign of fall.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. jane woodman permalink
    Saturday, April 16, 2011 8:46 pm

    I love all your food descriptions and pictures! It’s funny because as you pass into fall and we pass into spring the temperatures are quite similar. Today was raw, breezy, and now a chilly rain is slashing against the windows. One of those days when you are too proud to still be in your parka but you should be. LOVE to you as our seasons cross, xoxo

    • David Russell permalink
      Sunday, April 17, 2011 7:21 am

      I love all your food descriptions also. You are doing so well with it. The idea of chopping, etc. while the fire gets going is smart. The seasons thing is very funny. We are roughly intersecting each other now as we go in different directions. It will be challenging for you, but interesting also. We can live an entire lifetime hear in the northern hemisphere and have only the vaguest knowledge that things are opposite in the south. I’m reminded of the upside down map of the world that has South America on the top. It is of course arbitrary. Hope we can skype tonight xoxoxo

  2. Eliza permalink
    Saturday, April 16, 2011 10:31 pm

    I love reading all of your updates, Margaret! Always filled with the Margaret I know and love. That fire is IMPRESSIVE.
    Love,
    Eliza

  3. Cynthia Watkins permalink
    Sunday, April 17, 2011 7:50 am

    Hi M,
    I’m so loving your blog. Hearing from you because it’s you and hearing what you have to say, which is so much and makes me think! This morning I was worrying that I hadn’t seen a new message from you. Then, here it was! Like a typical American I have been oblivious to the opposite seasons in the southern hermisphere. Recently I did some work for an Argentinian and learned it again. Hard to get one’s mind around it! Happy birthday Alice!
    Cynthia

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