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Comforting tastes of Fall

Returning from the dessert in California, where it was over 90 degrees every day we were there, to a grey and saturated Seattle, the very first thing we noticed was in our absence our city had turned the corner into Fall. I love our street lined with cascading bursts of orange, reds and yellows. Our apple tree is burdened down, heavy with large red fruit. It has been cool, wet and refreshing equally balanced with crisp, clear days vibrant with blue skies and a low, mildly warm sunshine. We got back and struggled to get back into the swing of daily life. I think my entire mindset of this year simply ended at this trip, so I have been left flustered and direction-less. Therefore it’s been easy to fill those seemingly empty hours with the inspiration in the form of food Fall has suddenly hit me with. Even as I sit here and type this first paragraph, Matt looks up from his computer screen, commenting on the image below that we should be roasting pumpkins. There has been something comforting, something warmly wonderful about having this house filled with the smells of roasting, braising, baking and stewing.

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Comforting. That is a word that has been fairly close to mind. It’s layers can be attributed to much of what we have experienced in the weeks since we’ve been back home. Comfort in the enveloping scents we make in the kitchen. Comfort taken away by the violation of our house being broken into while we were gone. Comfort exposed in the areas we’ve perhaps held to strongly and in the wrong things. Being robbed, the tangible things taken out of this house, haven’t left as much residual emotions as I would have thought. Things are just things, they are replaceable. There could have been a lot more taken, two of the three the items stolen were trivial. The loss of the third, Matt’s bike, his transportation which enables our lifestyle within this city, a bit harder to swallow. Still. They’re just things and an event like this exposes that which we really value. I would have been far more heartbroken if they’d have take,n, say our skis (and with it the excited anticipation of the coming season) or computer and accompanying hard drives (years of business work, photography, personal files) or the valuable artwork or furnishings we own (some near irreplaceable). I understand the things I value to be far different than that of the typical thief, who ransacked our house (and hopefully frustratingly so) in search of small electronics, jewelry and cash. What we have placed value in is obviously far different than mainstream culture. I joke now, they hit the wrong house- we don’t own a TV, don’t own any jewelry, but if they’d have known more about vintage furniture, they could have made off with quite a bit of value in just one or two chairs.

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Even though I don’t care so much about the stuff, I was quite taken back with how the feeling of having our space violated affected me. There were several times when leaving the house, even with locking up, checking the locks, I still doubt the security of our doors and windows. Even the small nigh-time noises in and around the house I have for years taken for granted suddenly have me on edge, unable to fall asleep. Given time, that has passed. Initially, my reaction was that I would have felt more comfortable getting a dog than turning back on the security system that was already here in this house. Even that was fleeting in the reality of what pet ownership entails (and our girls are terrified of dogs).

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So instead I baked. Baked and put into perspective what is worth worrying about and what is not, what is controllable and what is not. We baked cookies. Three different kinds. I even picked up a sweet little serving-storage-display thingie at Goodwill for $0.99 and even though I don’t know what it might be called, I’m still smitten. It just fuels the excuse to bake. Then when I bake stuff, I have to take pictures. Beyond the baking, I’ve also made a few stews and soups with roasted squash and savory meats. Most are tucked away in the freezer awaiting a (literally) rainy day when the inspiration is hard to come by. We’ve made granola, breads and hot sandwiches. If anything, it reinforces how much I love what we refer to as Fall comfort foods. My aim is usually to eat our way through the any season, the benefit of this type of year warming our typically chilly house as a byproduct.

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With the sun has brought ample opportunity to venture outside as well. The continual accumulation of leaves from the tree in our front yard allows us to emerge from our house and engage within our block, all of whom have experienced a similar violation as the theft’s repercussions have made waves down our street. One neighbor’s lawnmower was taken. Another also lost a bike. Across the street a laptop was stolen. As a community, we are not immune. For me there is a vague comfort in knowing we were not the only ones targeted. This is the only time we have been gone for an extended period of time, it was obvious we were gone even though we had a house sitter. No one wants to be constantly suspicious of their neighbors or every new face who walks down the block. This incident has not further divided our block, if anything it has fueled commonality. For us, it has opened us up to a relationship working with the police precinct as the neighborhood and enlisted officers work together for the betterment of this community. Even something as simple, yet visible, act of raking leaves with two neighborhood boys across the street who came over to lend a hand suddenly holds far more meaning this week.

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