Yesterday my desktop weather icon started flashing red to indicate a weather alert: a frost warning had been issued for a large swath of Minnesota. My backyard container garden of tomatoes and cucumbers has been looking wan and played-out lately anyway, but I've still been picking smallish fruit now and then and have hopes for a small continued harvest for another few weeks. So, along with many others last night. I hauled out sheets to cover the tender plants. This morning, though I couldn't see any signs of frost myself, my daughter on the phone from her dad's house (bubbling over with excitement at the thought of her first rehearsal with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies this morning in St. Paul) said there was a coating of frost on their grass that looked like a light snowfall.
Over my morning mug of tea, I finished the book Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who spent a year eating food almost entirely from within a 100-mile radius of their British Columbia home. That put me in the mood for the farmers market. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and my mood soared as I put on a sweater and light jacket and wondered vaguely where my gloves might be. I know people who sadden at the onset of fall because it is the first harbinger of winter, but I come alive with the cooler air. Fall is my favorite season. As I drove to the ATM to get money for the market, the First National Bank thermometer read 35 and I sang aloud to "Tiny Dancer" on the radio.
At the farmers market, it was clear that fall had arrived. I haven't been there for a couple of weeks or more. The winter squashes -- both edible and ornamental -- were everywhere. Late, partially green tomatoes and green peppers had clearly been picked in quantity yesterday to escape the ruining frost. I overheard Gary Vosejpka of Thorn Crest Farm saying he'd covered 1000 feet of young beans with tarps, looking ahead to more warm weather and hoping yet to bring those beans to harvest. That's a lot of tarps, and a lot of work.
For my $16 spent today, I came away with several large potatoes, a container of good-sized carrots and a big bunch of much smaller ones with greens attached, a loaf of freshly baked basil-and-garlic bread, a bunch of leeks, a large butternut squash, a large pattypan type squash, and a bag of tender-looking green beans. I've already trimmed and scrubbed the little carrots; they and some potatoes and leeks will go into a fish stew for dinner. Ah, the pleasure of being in the kitchen again after avoiding baking and long-simmering preparations for the past several months. Welcome, fall.