Summer’s End

It’s hard to believe that just a little over a week ago we were in the midst of one of the hottest summer heat-waves that I have ever felt. Steady temperatures in the upper 90’s and 100’s were almost unbearable-add to that …no rain. A few teasing dark clouds accompanied by distant rumbling thunder was as close as we got to any precipitation.

And just when we thought we could not take another day of heat….the rains came. Today we were at a cool 77 degrees…a whopping 25 degrees cooler than last week! Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even cooler.

So now we make the gradual descent into autumn and winter. The temps will slowly dip…teetering up and down for a while yet. The nights will grow steadily colder.

Soon housewives here will change out the light blankets and “towelkets” (blankets that look like huge towels) for heavier mink blankets and down comforters.

Soon I’ll wash and store my light summer aprons and haul out the long-sleeved warm ones. My favorite are the fleece aprons that tie at the neck and lower back. They are so warm and comfy. I’ve never worn an apron until we moved to Japan.

Now it’s automatic, as soon as I walk into the kitchen the first thing I grab is my apron. In the cold months my fleece one is on most of the day.

I’ve said this before but for the benefit of the new readers-living in an old Japanese house means that we live mostly with the natural temperatures outside as we do not have central heating or cooling. We do have a couple of room air-conditioners but this was the only year that I have ever really used them so much. In the winter we have two kerosene heaters-one in the kitchen and one in the TV tatami room. In our bedroom our wall air-conditioner doubles as a heater in the winter. It has dual functions. The rest of the house is whatever temperature it is outside! Last year we had a cold winter and I could see my breath easily in the unheated rooms.

And so now…we feel the changing of the seasons yet again…..

The autumn bell crickets are already tuning up for their nightly concerts.

My water garden rejoiced over the rain and began blooming. My poor little garden must be thrilled. Half of it had to fend for itself because I watered only what was important. I’m looking forward to going outside and straightening up the hedges and tidying up. I think I’ll plant autumn flowers this year. I usually don’t but it was such a hot summer I rather neglected things outside. I think I’ll put some effort into autumn foliage and flowers.

I noticed that some of the momiji are already showing signs of turning color. I’m guessing that this terribly hot summer without rain has something to do with that.

I’m still harvesting tomatoes. We are going to miss them when they are finally finished. We will miss all the simple but delicious dishes I was able to come up with. One of our favorite was this one: I pan roasted the tomatoes until they cracked open. Sometimes I threw in other vegetables -this dish had a few beans tossed in. When everything was just about cooked I added a spoon of garlic paste and a very tiny bit of salt/pepper. Very tiny as we eat almost salt free. Super delicious! Pan roasting the tomatoes really brings out the flavor.

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I still go out and collect a pocketful every morning and I can see that the harvest is dwindling now.

I am really looking forward to baking season. I have a small table top convection oven that I use for baking breads, cakes and other treats. No such thing as a nice big GE oven here. I have absolutely no motivation to bake during the hot months. Not in a kitchen that has no air-conditioning. But soon the house and surrounding neighborhood will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate!

The sewing room has been rearranged and prettied up for the coming cold months when I spend more time indoors crafting….although this summer was so hot that I didn’t go out much either. Right now I’ve got a patchwork curtain in the works.

Ordinary life going round and round and round…….

But…when we get a break in the rain on a day when I have some time….. I think a day of wandering and exploring is in order….

 

 

5 thoughts on “Summer’s End

  1. It is cooling off here, too, although we didn’t get the heat you described. We have one 90 degree prediction this coming week is all, every other day is in the mid 80s. But rain! We need rain!
    Seeing you water garden makes me wonder if I could do something similar. How did you set it up?
    Blessings!

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  2. As I stepped into your garden while reading SUMMER’S END, I decided that it will be the beauty of South Dakota’s autumn prairie I write about in my next blog. The cooling of Japan’s climate with the evening bell crickets really made me want to share similar scents and smells. I could even taste the garlic that mingled with the remaining, ripe tomatoes that were simmering in the pan. Thank you for this lovely post.

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  3. Ian L. McQueen says:

    How fortunate you are not to have deer! Our tomatoes were rather late and we had a dozen or so green ones in late August that would soon enough have turned red and been delicious…..except that a deer (presumably) ate nearly all the leaves and tomatoes. The few smaller ones that it left will ripen, but then it will become cool (we are much colder than Kyushu in winter). However, what few people seem to know is that tomatoes are not annuals- they continue producing through the winter if the room is warm and sunny enough, and will continue to produce the following year.

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