what was crystal clear

baked apples

This was supposed to be a recipe for an easy version of apple pie, or at least that was my intent when I started peeling and coring four Granny Smith apples at the counter last Wednesday night.

As part of my mission to avoid yet another kitchen disaster, I had been taking every possible easy route: choosing a simple recipe, peeling all the required apples in one step, doing that peeling while I was sitting down so as not to exert any unnecessary effort for something that might not turn out and not even using a printed recipe because I had memorized the basic steps from looking at them for so long, really analyzing whether or not I could trust this new combination of ingredients and steps and would it be worth the trouble? In most of life, this fragile attitude would be something to work through, but in this case, it really worked to my advantage.

Each time I’d finish peeling one of the apples, its curly green skins spread out on the cutting board in front of me, I’d plop its little body into the adjacent round casserole dish, keeping it from rolling away while also leaving the counter clean. And thing is, once I set that final apple into the dish, the four of them lined up next to each other like they were meant to stay that way, ready to be poached or roasted or something, it became crystal clear to me that these apples weren’t for a pie, but instead they had a different fate. I should bake them, bake them whole, stuffed with some sort of sugar and oats mixture that could get all hot and gooey inside and bubble on top and down the sides. It was so obvious.

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On Autumn

red leaf

Here is what I like most about autumn, even more than the apple cider and the crunchy leaves and the chilly air that makes me reach for a sweater while I cradle a cup of tea: like the other seasons, fall doesn’t arrive in one grand, magical instant.

Although its place on the calendar is fixed, autumn’s effect on daily life comes more gradually, reaching us through small, almost imperceptible shifts day by day—the gusts of wind, the days of rain, the hazy fog over some afternoons, until, one day, someone says: Hey, look around you, see those red leaves? It’s fall! And then, as we notice, we remember the Used To Be and marvel, that what was once hot and humid has become cooler, darker, crisper, more colorful, as if the change had occurred overnight, just like that, when in reality, it had been coming for a while.

fall leaves

I like this about fall because it is like life, and by that, I mean it is like the way a person you sit next to at work, through daily conversations and shared lunches and common experiences, becomes, over time, much more than someone you sit next to at work, changing from an acquaintance not in one day or one moment, but in the slow, daily shifts of knowledge and understanding that make a friendship.

It is like the way years fly by, in a series of moments and days that keep coming, so that I sit here, now at 27, wondering how in the world I was a senior in high school ten years ago, how recent and how faraway that seems and how much has changed and how much hasn’t.

leaves against sky

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