No more temps in the 80s. Not much more in the way of temps in the 70s. This makes me happy.
It also makes me hungry for soup, which is what we had for lunch today:
Red Pepper Soup
3 red bell peppers, seeded & chopped
1 large-ish carrot, scraped & chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 Tbsp minced fresh (or 1 tsp dried) thyme
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
A couple pinches of cayenne pepper
A couple pinches of red pepper flakes
In a soup-making vessel, saute vegetables in oil until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, rice and all seasonings except red pepper flakes. Heat to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20-25 minutes until rice is done and vegetables are tender.
Let cool for about 15 minutes (or a little less, if you have an immersion blender). Puree in batches with a regular blender, or puree in situ with an immersion blender. Return to pot; add red pepper flakes; heat through gently.
We didn't have this with it, but I think a little swirl of crème fraîche on the top would have been just lovely. Even without this lily-gilding, however, the soup was delicious enough that the boys polished theirs off straightaway and Jim and I went back for generous seconds.
I've always liked spring and fall better than either summer or winter--they're seasons of moderation, pleasant times, not too hot or too cold. But since my limited Portland experience seems to indicate that we have crap springs here in the great Northwest (rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain), I guess I'll have to content myself with fall alone. (At least the summers aren't so hot that they can't be enjoyed.)
But weather aside, there's something about fall that seems to invite both introspection and a sort of coziness the other seasons lack. The crisp mornings invite you to snuggle a little longer in bed; the sun warms up the afternoons just enough to beckon you outside for some leaf-raking or maybe some last-chance tomato harvesting. The evenings fairly cry out for my favorite kinds of dinners: hearty stews, roasted vegetables, good rib-sticking meals that leave you feeling pleasantly warm & drowsy after eating them. And once fall shows up and starts sniffing around, Thanksgiving's not far behind... my favorite holiday of all, I think. (Who can argue with a day devoted to cooking and eating in the company of family?)
Then there's the creative impulse that seems to blossom in fall--maybe creativity is a member of the winter squash family, or perhaps some sort of a cruciferous vegetable? After weeks (er, months) of neglecting The Book, I feel new ideas and details and bits & pieces of narrative structure finally opening up in my mind, sending tendrils of excitement down long-dormant neural pathways. Who knows? Maybe this year I'll not only sign up for National Novel Writing Month, but actually accomplish something during it.
So even though there's always something a little melancholy about fall, and I know winter with its long stretches of dreary grey blahs won't be far away now, I'm always excited for the first days of digging through dresser drawers for sweaters, the first sight of a turning leaf.
I need to make sure we get a few more hikes in before the rains come and the trails get too sodden to walk.