This week in farm life: For the first time in my personal Amrta history, the farm is temporarily emptied of volunteers. After last week’s full house and the conclusion of an extended visit from a close friend, I’ve been savoring what Suzanna has designated as our “putter week” in the interim leading up to next week’s new arrivals. We’ve slowed down to tend to all of the little projects that accumulate on our collective radar, but that tend to get sidelined when we are busy teaching and supervising.
We’ve created a covered bamboo structure to house our growing array of tomatoes, and have begun harvesting cacao and coffee. Miguel has just perfected a recipe for Mexican-style hot chocolate with ground cinnamon and almonds, which I had today with breakfast in place of my usual espresso to jumpstart my day with the heady buzz the cacao provides. Yesterday we dug up a ton of fresh ginger and turmeric, two of the most prominent features of my personal spice palate. It rained during most of the morning today, so after tending to the greenhouse I spent time preparing a few ferments, a starter culture for ginger beer and bags of what will eventually become banana vinegar.
The slower pace and relative solitude has lent itself to a period of both contemplation and kitchen-dancing, basking in the abundance of the harvest and looking back on a little fall-time nostalgia.
Joan Didion aptly reduced the passage of time in Southern California to the duality of “the season when the fires come and the season when the rains come.” As a child of the Southland’s suburban desert I’m not inclined to disagree with her assessment, though growing up I often yearned for more dramatic significations of seasonal shifts. Regardless of its anti-climactic climatic incantations, fall always brought with it a feeling of momentum, snowballing through the holidays towards the New Year with a crisp chill in the air, trips to the apple orchards of Oak Glen, and baking pumpkin everything.
Here in the tropics of Costa Rica I find myself again with only two seasons to mark the inevitable procession of time: the rainy season and the dry season. As the rainy season reaches its peak before drawing to a close, there is a slight chill in the air some mornings, albeit one that usually yields to the requisite humid sunshine. But there are pumpkins on the vine, and in tribute to tradition, I’ve been a busy baker.
Here’s a collection of my favorite pumpkin recipes from around the web: