Season’s Change

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Sunday night a crisp wind blew into the kitchen. Yesterday I saw a definitive signal of approaching autumn when I spotted the first tobacco truck laden with it’s burden of golden green leaves. The market is full of bargains as everyone tries to unload their surplus. The man selling chili peppers was hoping I would be seduced by his come-hither hands on his hips pose.

Season's Change
Sunday night a crisp wind blew into the kitchen.  Windows closed, quilts came back out, leaves blew off the trees overnight.  The weather report described the air as frizzante, or bubbly and cold, and that’s the way it felt: frizzante.

Tobacco Field
 
Yesterday I saw a definitive signal of approaching autumn when I spotted the first tobacco truck laden with it’s burden of golden green leaves.  It’s a traditional crop in the valleys around here, but It’s a bittersweet harvest. For years it’s been a reliable, government subsidized cash crop, but the subsidies will end soon and  farmers are desperate to find a reliable substitute. Tobacco needs an epic amount of water to grow, in a place where water is scarce, it has a beautiful flower and turns the hills a lovely golden color, but as the cigarette packs tell us: SMOKING KILLS.  It’s complicated.
Chili Pepper man The market is full of bargains as everyone tries to unload their surplus. The man selling chili peppers was hoping I would be seduced by his come-hither hands on his hips pose, but I have enough peppers in the garden right now to last me. He was selling those huge bunches of chili peppers for 5 euros, so I can’t say I wasn’t sorely tempted.

You can hear the evidence that it’s a new season: the guns have been blasting all day as hunting season officially began this morning. Side roads are full of clumps of mud covered Fiat Pandas, barking dogs are on the scent and once again it’s not safe to wander in the fields.

 We shared an apertivo with friends last night and their shoes reeked of lavender. It’s the time of year to cut back all the wayward lavender so it will come back lush and fragrant in the spring.
Sunflower Field

The sunflowers are willy nilly right now, heads up, heads down, it’s their last hurrah before they get toasted black and then harvested for their oil.

I’m ready for my first taste of figs. Rumor has it The Mother of All Fig Trees will start delivering by this weekend.  Our rooftop Moscato grapes have been picked over by the birds, but they leave us a taste hear and there. The Americano grapes in the orto aren’t ripe yet, but any day now I’ll need to figure out what to do with kilos and kilos of very sweet grapes.   Tomatoes are still abundant in the orto, but I’m getting impatient waiting for the bitter greens to hurry up and grow. We’re making notes for next spring’s planting: do not plant the cucumbers close to the zucchinis unless there is a need for bright yellow cukes.  Zucchini should be planted on the side, over by the wall so it can spread out and do it’s giant leafed thing without covering up everybody else.
Moscato Grapes

The sagra season in Umbria has begun. Sagras are town festivals that celebrate different foods. Sunday night we were in San Leo di Bastia at the Sagra del Fungo (Which literally translates as Festival of The Mushroom, which led to a lively grammatical debate: should it be mushrooms singular or plural?)  In two weeks the Sagrantino wine festival will be happening, along with onions in Canara, chestnuts in Morra, potatoes in Pietralunga. The seasons come and go so quickly, don’t they?  Happy September!

One Response to "Season’s Change"
  1. Great photos and writing as always, Judith. I particularly love the photo of the sunflowers.

    The best figs I have ever eaten were in late September directly from a tree at the villa we stayed at just outside of Siena. I’m jealous!

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