Feast at Tom Bombadil's

For those who are keeping track of these things, September 26th is the day that Frodo Baggins and companions meet Tom Bombadil in the first book of The Lord of the Rings. After 3 days of travel and avoiding the terrifying ringwraiths, plus an afternoon of getting lost and soporific in the grips of the Old Forest, running into this jolly singing fearless fellow with his big blue yellow boots is quite the relief--for the reader let alone for the traveling hobbits. That first dinner with Tom and his lady Goldberry is described in simple terms: "It was a long and merry meal. Though the hobbits ate, as only famished hobbits can eat, there was no lack. The drink in their drinking-bowls seemed to be clear cold water, yet it went to their hearts like wine and set free their voices."

When I remember, I like to have a Tom & Goldberry feast on this day. Tolkien lets us imagine what might have been served. I like to think that thick bread, smoky sausages, abundant tomatoes, and rustic cheeses were involved. Here's the best we could do this year:

Bread & butter, cheese & sausages, wine and apple juice, and Israeli couscous salad (!)

I took several versions of this photo before I read about the drinking bowls, so I reset with bowls instead of glasses. That's a bowl of wine on the bottom left. Our bigger kid thought drinking juice from a bowl was great.

Fungus Among Us

Today we went for a walk in the woods--the same place I described in August 2008 (with photos of newts!). This time it was so damp that we immediately decided we would have a "Fungus Walk" and try to find as many interesting and lovely fungi as possible. Here are just a few photos. (We also saw SIX newts. It was awesome.)

This guy was growing in a rotten tree that had been cut into sections, one left standing upright. I love the wood grain background.

Can fungus be "snuggly"?

Lovely and strange

There was more of this log, all covered with clusters.

Some kind of shelf fungus took over this log.

These are in a part of the woods where there are a lot of "twins"--twin toadstools more temporary than twin birches.

Super-super-beautiful (I was just reading about Jean-Paul Gaultier who says that all the time)

Apple picking in Vermont

September days have a special luminousness like no other month's. The long-slanting late summer light imparts a certain glow to every object. High clear skies seem a richer blue. The air is crisp and focused, not the lazy splat of high summer humidity. Some September days become pure magic and instantly memorable just for their September-ness.

That's how I felt on our Sunday apple-picking trip to Cortland Hill Orchard on Bonnyvale Road in Brattleboro. I don't think I'll ever forget the look of the quiet orchard at the top of the hill, each tree bright and solid against the amazing deep blue sky, each branch from crown to ground clustered with powdery red Cortland apples, perfect picking for any sized person--even the very littlest. For only seven dollars we brought home half a peck of red-cheeked Cortlands, pretty much the best apple I have ever tasted. (It helps that we picked them ourselves on a perfect day, that adds an extra taste you can never find at the stand or the store.)

Just a September Sunday

A lot has changed lately, some great and some scary.

On the great side, I got a new job that starts tomorrow. I'm so excited about it. It's going to rock.

On the scary side, our sweet little state of Vermont was smacked by the remnants of Hurricane Irene (she was a tropical storm by the time she hit us and filled up all the little brooks to become raging flooding maniacs). Our town has come out OK, though some businesses, homes and roads were hit hard. The state is cleaning up, digging out, rebuilding, and keeping chins up.

Also, girl-child started kindergarten. That is very cool and she seems to love it. If she is anything like me she will adore school for many years.

I've been cooking plenty of good things, including freaking amazing milk-braised pork chops that we had with local sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

With everything going on I just haven't had time to write a blog post lately. That's a shame, so I'm kickstarting myself with a photo essay about this morning.

Did you know that today, September 11, is Grandparent's Day? Our children are playing at their grandparents' right this minute (thanks J&J!). Also, it's the day my parents first met and started to fall in love. Also, I'm pretty sure a certain little girl in England is turning 5 today. There's plenty of light and life on this day, or any day, if we look for it.

Leaves starting to fall

Align CenterCurried lentil soup for dinner

Sunflowers hang their heavy heads

Happy sourdough rising

Summer gear abandoned


Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes