To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
From Keats’ To Autumn
I have always been a fan of August. I might even argue it’s my favourite month of summer. As a kid I used to spend every August at sleepover camp, swimming in the balmy lake and making gimp bracelets. I used to love how the month would start off hot, but end up cold. My cabin mates and I walking to breakfast in flannel pyjama bottoms and heavy wool sweaters. I loved the transition to fall. Yet, I’ve been a little bit stuck for this month’s theme: cooling off.
Little phrases like that seem to have bad reputations; the relationship is cooling off, my interest is cooling, the passion cooled. Somehow, cooling has become a sad thing. A cool, a chill, the cold. Those words are used to make us bristle and understand that something that once was, is no longer. But, is that really true? Does that hold for everything? Food is a cyclical world, which looking at only one point, the hot point let’s say, occludes the remainder of the cycle. You miss so much if you only see summer. Summer is one stop off, one aspect of the food. The cooling off is necessary. As our continent makes it’s slow but steady rotation to the autumn side of the sun, we get cool mornings and chilly nights, but hot days. The cooling off is a whisper of the coming cold season. So while the winter yield is a far cry from the summer harvest, the coolness of early fall and late summer give us delicious fruits and vegetables that need just such a combination of sun and temperature.
The crisp apple. The succulent peach. The plentiful squash. The juicy melon. Sweet corn.
All of these are the cooling off fruits.
Maybe it’s a time to take a moment, chopping a squash or taking the first bite of an apple, to appreciate the change in season. The necessity of a morning chill. As in food and life, change is good. So maybe cooling off isn’t so bad after all.