Late August is always a tough time of year for me. Summer still bakes us with its heat, but the cool nights remind us fall is not far away.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fall. I love harvesting the garden and enjoying the colours. I love canning and pickling and stacking pumpkins on my porch. I love fall food – pot roasts, apple crisps, pumpkin cheesecake, and, of course, pumpkin martinis.
But do we have to rush headlong into my favourite season of the year? It seems this year everyone is anxious to see the year finished. Halloween and Christmas decorations hit the stores at the beginning of August. Radio and TV hosts talked about fall’s imminent arrival the Tuesday after the August long weekend. Gardening gurus tell us to harvest our tomatoes before the first frost, which they predict will come before Labour Day.
It makes me sad to see this acceleration of the seasons. Right now my tomatoes hang heavy on the vine, my miniature eggplants are just about ready, the tomatillos await salsa verde, and the herb garden is in full swing. I don’t want it to end. I have delicious amounts of basil, and have my olive oil, garlic and pine nuts ready, but surely it’s not yet time to make pesto? I just ate my first fresh peach of the season two days ago, for heaven’s sake!
Here in Maple Creek we are blessed with about two extra weeks at either end of the growing season compared to where we used to live just south of Saskatoon. This extended good weather, coupled with raised beds and the shelter of hedges and buildings means my garden lasts a while longer that many in Saskatchewan. And still I hate to see it go.
Like my garden, September means change for the Star. Chef Joel and I start our menu talks, and set the date for our new menu’s debut. The soups take a fall turn, with cabbage, broccoli and squash playing their parts. The kitchen cools down a bit. As it gets dark earlier, the dining room feels more intimate and we all start to recover from a very busy summer.
September’s arrival also means we say goodbye to Bryn Vilness, the anchor of our front-of-house team. He’s off to Vancouver to go back to school, and while we wish him well, I really just want to chain him to the bar and keep him here. We will miss him dearly. Bobbi Jo has taken a full-time position with the high school and won’t have as much time for us. Anneli is going to a job with the health district and will also see her hours reduce. At least they are both staying in town so we will see them from time to time.
While we hate to see them go, we are pleased to welcome three new members to our team: Alana, Keanna and Kalee. We know they will make you feel welcome and continue our tradition of professional, friendly service.
I guess I just have to acknowledge that seasons change, people come and go, and every change brings new challenges and opportunities. Still I am determined to slow this headlong rush to fall, and savour all the joys late summer offers. And, knowing me, I’ll probably ignore the frost warnings at my garden’s peril. Poor tomatoes!