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Autumn Leaves


Guest post by Dr. Kim Dulaney, wife, mother, physician, and blogger at This Good Medicine



When I was a child, our family would always give up sweets for Lent–the 40 days of preparation before Easter. No dessert, no candy, no jelly, no cookies, no cake. Throughout the 40 days the longing for something sweet would build and build until WHAMMY! Easter morning I got to eat a chocolate bunny for breakfast.

Talk about delicious.  I mean REALLY good. Down to its little chocolate tail.

Deprivation and anticipation have a way of honing life’s pleasures.

This anticipation is what makes the seasons so wonderful.  The intense heat of summer makes us long for the first cool day of autumn. The onslaught of leaves to be raked makes us long for the sparseness of winter. In the dregs of winter, we long for the first green thing to show up. In spring, the little peeps of color here and there make us anticipate the explosion of color that comes with summer.  And so it goes: the rhythms of life have the potential to bring us joy and pleasure.

Unfortunately, we have lost some of this joy because of our modern desire for convenience. We want apples, so we go get them in May at the grocery. We want strawberries, so we buy them in the dead of winter, or in the heat of August at the grocery.  We want to be warm in the winter and cold in the summer.  We have lost the ability to deprive ourselves in the midst of all this plenty. When we don’t know how to wait in joyful anticipation, we lose the sense of joy that comes with waiting for something special to show up.

Eating locally gives us the chance to learn again how to anticipate and enjoy things in their proper time. In the spring, tender fresh greens are available. In the winter, the root vegetables, cold-hearty greens and soups and meaty stews grace the table. In summer, the riot of vegetables and fruits makes it easy to make meat a small side dish, or just to forgo meat more often in place of lovely vegetables.

Not only is the garden seasonal, but animals also have their rhythms, including chickens. Now that the days are getting shorter, chickens slow down their egg laying. Their production can be increased by putting lights in their houses  to disrupt their natural cycles. But just like many things, perhaps there is a reason for this rhythm.  As humans we have two choices: we can use our marvelous brains to discover how to overthrow the rhythm of nature and bend nature to our will and desires, or we can use our minds to figure out how to fit more perfectly into the rhythms that are already here.

Now that the eggs are fewer, we are no longer making the lovely quiches and frittatas that we enjoyed all summer. Even scrambled eggs (our family can go through almost a dozen eggs at one sitting) have disappeared from the breakfast table. We are using them sparingly and saving them up for baking.

So rather than mourning the loss of the summer’s bounty, turn your mind to the warmth of the kitchen in winter: the long-simmering  pots, the spices, the comfort foods. If you abstain from summer’s bounty in the midst of winter, you will enjoy it all the more when it returns.

Trust me.  I learned it from a chocolate bunny.

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