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Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

It’s the last day of April today, and it feels like it. It is cooler, and I pulled out some winter clothes this morning to venture out. A cup of hot tea at breakfast is very welcome now, instead of the simple glass of water I’ve had for months.

Mist has hung about our hills all day, obscuring the view, hiding other parts of the city across the gorge, including even the streetlights I can normally see from my window. The streets are lined with fallen orange leaves, which surprised me given that our city is very green, dominated by the evergreen natives, with few flashes of autumn colour. Time to change my blog header.

It’s dark already, only just after 6 pm, and the idea of curling up in bed later under a warm duvet with a book or my iPad is appealing. Yes, the seasons have changed, and winter is almost here.

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For the first time ever, I think, I actually saw the clocks go back, waking at 2.30 am and wondering if it was the first 2-3 am hour or the second, then again 40 minutes later, to saw that it was 2.10 am. I could then sleep easily, as we all had our alarms set for 4 am, to get the BIL to the airport to catch his early flight home to Asia.

Later, after a good sleep-in, the extra hour in the day meant that we were still early enough to set off for a late-morning walk. I felt good – whether it was the long sleep I had enjoyed, or the freedom that comes from being left in peace, I don’t know – and we decided to head out to Makara, a tiny beach community at the southwest of the city, and take the coastal walkway.

The seashore here was rocky and stony, with lots of seaweed and piles and piles of driftwood, and the occasional boat frame rusting away. The path was uneven, sometimes flat on the side of the hills that rise up from the sea, and sometimes disappearing, requiring navigation over the driftwood and stony beach which wasn’t too unstable, although I was acutely aware that it was exactly this weekend two years ago when I fell and broke my ankle.

The sun shone, the sky was blue, the temperature mild, with only a gentle breeze cooling us, as the sea lapped against the stony beach, uncharacteristically calm, the windmills on the green hills opposite turned slowly, and in the distance, flat Mana Island and steep, hazy, Kapiti Island beyond pointed the way north.

Next time, I later resolved, I’d take my camera and tripod, but the phone camera didn’t do a bad job.

bty

bty

bty

 

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There’s a challenge going around on Futterbucket, asking people to post photographs of nature for seven days in a row, and today someone picked me for it. I respond well to challenges like these, if I do say so myself. After all, last year in May I did a photo a day challenge! And I love photographing nature, even if I’m not very good at it. So, as well as doing it on Fb, I’m going to do it here too. Maybe the same photos, maybe not.

Today it is chilly, and I’ve had the heater on this morning. It was raining heavily earlier, too, though fortunately that has stopped. I just nipped out to buy a new, autumn-coloured winter coat – because that’s the kind of day it is. Maybe autumn really has arrived. It reminded me of Poland, where autumn was cold but startlingly beautiful. It’s been hard to choose just one photo. Would I go for a close up or a distant shot?

Of course, as I’ve gone through to choose a photo, I realise that my header on this blog is from Poland. To be precise, it was from Chopin’s birthplace. So I’ve gone here for a photo from a Warsaw park, bringing nature into the city.

Fallen leaves, Autumn in Warsaw 2013

Autumn in Warsaw 2013

 

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When in doubt, blog about the weather.

Living in Windy Wellington, we are often the subject of jokes and comments, and last week, with wild winds all over the country, someone I know in the South Island couldn’t resist poking fun at me. Two days later, though, in his own hometown, my niece’s large trampoline was blown over her high fence into the neighbour’s garden.

More winds have arrived today, sweeping up the country. Often, we get big winds around the equinoxes or the change of seasons, but we’ve had a very long and very mild autumn, an autumn that still seems to have been clinging to the end of summer. I like the different seasons, and usually welcome autumn – the oak tree outside my window is the one tree around us that changes colours, and I always enjoy the feeling of snuggling up inside in the warm – but this year, the colours are there, but the chill hasn’t arrived, and I’m still in short sleeves.

This afternoon, though, with big wind gusts, and the threat of hail, it feels as if the seasons are trying to change. If you ask me, it’s about time.

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  • I can sleep without tossing the covers on and off when I get too hot, and we can pull back the curtains on the sunny side of the house, without worrying that the house will reach ridiculous temperatures
  • The tui are all chattering in our trees, after being quiet over summer
  • Covering up, just a little, as temperatures dip
  • Lamb shanks are back on the menu, and red wine is more appealing
  • I have an excuse to wear a sock, covering my (somehow unseemly and unsightly) toes that protrude from my lower leg cast
  • When I am once again mobile, I’ll be able to reclaim the cafes around the beaches from all those fair-weather customers
  • I like seasons and weather, so the arrival of dark clouds and blustery winds is somehow comforting
  • The light

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After our three-month Lemons to Limoncello sojourn in Italy, I wrote that the dish I most wanted to recreate when I got home was the Pumpkin Gnocchi from Trattoria alla Cerva in Vittorio Veneto.

Maybe part of the reason I loved this dish so much was that we ate it in an amazing location (see below), sitting outside in the Piazza Flaminio, in our favourite trattoria, where the owner would come around to his guests, and sit down at your table, and explain the menu – but only if it had changed since the last time we had visited.

Piazza Flaminio - The view from our dinner table

The view from our dinner table

Our last evening in Vittorio Veneto, temperatures had just started to dip, autumn was in the air, and pumpkin was newly on the menu. Foolishly, I suggested to my husband that we share it as a primo piatto (first course), a suggestion I regretted the moment I tasted the gnocchi. A luscious pumpkin flavour, with something else bringing a richness and strength of flavour – which I know now, after testing a few different pumpkin gnocchi recipes, was parmesan cheese – and dressed either with a virgin olive oil or butter (I cannot remember), and a light dusting of finely grated parmesan.

I tested a new recipe recently – here’s the link (as requested by Lemons to Limoncello readers two years ago) – on some friends who were unwitting guinea pigs, and after one bite, knew I’d found something close to the Trattoria alla Cerva’s gnocchi. The base is simply roast pumpkin and parmesan (the more finely grated it is the better), with a tiny bit of egg and flour to bind it together, and it was delicious tossed with the burnt butter and sage sauce. I roasted too much pumpkin, so have several more servings frozen, ready for when I have an urgent need to be deliciously transported back to a northern Italian medieval piazza again.

My pumpkin gnocchi

My pumpkin gnocchi

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It started in February. It was still warm here, with days spent enjoying the summer, windows wide open, late light evenings, the occasional complaint that our bedroom was too hot. But creeping into our collective psyche was the fear that it would soon be over. I wasn’t helped by the insidious reminders I received from friends on-line. Exhausted after a harsh winter, my people in the northern hemisphere were celebrating the appearance of new life – the green crocus tips the first photos that warmed their hearts, but put a shiver down my spine.

Then March arrived. The temperatures had dipped slightly and we had one or two cool days, though they went along with the southerly front that brought them, and the last week or so has been beautiful. In northern climes, they endured the last-ditch gasps of winter, further photos of snowfalls that must have frustrated my friends, but that secretly gave me hope that we had time. Though the crocuses grew.

The end is nigh. It is dark early in the mornings now, when we have been so used to the skies lightening at 5 am or earlier. From Sunday the light will arrive an hour earlier, but we will of course get a nasty shock when the sun sets at 6 pm.

The meteorologists tell us that it could still be a couple of months before we get cold, wintry weather. We have long springs and autumns here, in Wellington in particular. But it has begun. And even though I often quite like winter when it finally arrives, I don’t really enjoy the sense of foreboding we endure when it’s on its way.

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