indian summer.

This time every year, I slump a tiny bit.  This year a bit more than usual. I'm bracing myself for winter and the holidays, and just now most things seem sorta overwhelming. projects seem big, schedules seem big, the things on my mind seem big. without a doubt, the antidote for all this bigness is to go small.  take it one day at a time. baby steps. Make sense? yeah I know. it's the little things. Focus on the good small things that are continually present in my life. I am not really an all or nothing kinda girl. I sometimes I take the middle road. I like the simple things, yes, but there are still times I want to light the freaking world on fire. Right now? I want to pick up my blues and sit in a field of sunflowers.  I want to be a mermaid.

Did I mention life is perfect? Every day, insanely happy, with sprinkles of fairy dust for extra magic. Of course I didn't.  Perhaps because it is not true. Although I would be hard pressed to prove otherwise based on the past few weeks. Seems my world has gone orange. And. I have been on a bit of a fall bender. So I can't exactly say orange is my favorite color. or for that matter that fall is my favorite season. Spring has always been my darling, first, foremost, forever and always.  But, I reserve the right to adore fall, if only for the way it whispered it's way into my heart this year. The weather turned, right on schedule, even if it was more coincidence than coordination. not the worst thing that could happen, in fact I am looking forward to the tale of the next two months. Long afternoon walks are working their way into my days in something like a semblance of routine.  At its best, the days are still bright, though we are losing light on both ends rapidly. I find myself soaking in the quiet shades and soft, muted hues.  The spare glowy rays on our up-tilted earth are whimsical, aerial, imaginary. The hours of sunlight may number too few, but the stuff in between is extraordinary.  Quality over quantity, yes please! The blue skies are amazing. but the grey! the grey skies are wild with nuance and splendor.  Subtle and whispery, comforting and close, twelve thousand shades masquerading as one.  Grey skies are grandiose lengths of the finest wool flannel, strung up and hung high, right overhead. Man, who made this stuff!!!

Well, I've noticed I'm sort of alone, here, that for many there's no love lost on the calendar's last months.  What for me is a most welcome stretch of sweet quiet, is for many a too-long, much-dreaded slog.  I understand, I have my own unendurable months.  They just happen elsewhere in the year.  I didn't want to rub anyone's nose in my joy while an endless winter stretches before us, yet, as always Spring will follow. Thanks for indulging me. For my part, I'm also mourning the passing of the season.  This week-end I'll have the chance to say a proper farewell.  Until next year, then.  I'll miss you, my sweet Summer.
and just like that, here we are again.

this fall business distracts me terribly.

My kitchen is a bit confused as well, suffering from a serious split personality. melons, squash, zucchini sitting next to sweet potatoes and apples. I cut up my last watermelon and ate my last peach on the same day I made fall's first giant vat of chili.  And an apple cobbler. and then, bought a pumpkin. dinner lately has been soup, smoothies and toast. sunshine and goosebumps. it's all good.

So make up your mind, already. you hate it, you love it. I finally resorted to" eenie-meenie-miney-mo", then I did the whole "My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are not it", followed by, "You dirty old dish-rag YOU", because I'm still having a hard time accepting the fact that I can't have them all. I am the classic, theatrical girl. I can cry buckets of tears each day, usually after I instigate something in my mind and my memories reciprocate. I know, right. I am great at dishing it out. But the taking it part? Well, not so much. my heart really doesn't work that way. my mostly stitched back together heart these days has but two modes, Giggly Rodeo Clown and Emotional Teenager, sometimes at the same time.

So yeah, Fall. it tip toed into my heart this year. I never even saw it coming. The trees are keen on autumn joy, and I am keen on the trees, so I ought to at least give fall a nod.  And I'll loan out a small part of my heart to the mums, with their wild proportions and exuberant colors. And scarecrows, man.  Jolly, incarnate.  Frowns and pumpkins are mutually exclusive. Cross my heart.   

And today, the sky is the color blue when it whispers.  The clouds are transparent, trees are sighing.  Just right for a girl who's usually all tousled sunshine, topped with spun copper. I know fall like the back of my hand.  I know we're right back here, for a few weeks, all topsy-turvy in our bedtimes and temperatures. truly spectacular country sides likes of which we haven't seen in months.  I know that there will be plenty of lumps and loose ends to work out, as we go about the delicate braiding and un-braiding of ourselves each day.  I know, most especially, that it would behoove me to wipe the calendar clean and do away with my to-do lists and just expect the unexpected.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple cream cheese frosting

1 cup canned pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup soft butter
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Red Star Quick Rise Yeast or instant yeast

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used Grade A)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you've made a soft, fairly smooth dough.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, until it's almost doubled in bulk.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14" x 22" rectangle; the dough will be pretty thin.
4. Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter onto the top of the dough. In a medium bowl, mix together the filling ingredients and sprinkle them onto the butter creating an even layer, leaving one short edge free of filling (about 1 inch).
5. Starting with the short end that's covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.
6. Cut the log into nine 1 ½"-thick rolls.
7. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9" x 9" pan that's at least 2" deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.
8. Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're lightly browned and feel set. Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack. Turn them out of the pan, and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes. Towards the end of the cooling time, make the glaze.
9. To make the glaze: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, confectioners' sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined and creamy. Feel free to adjust the frosting to meet your needs. If you like a thinner frosting, add in a little milk (start with 1 teaspoon) and slowly increase until you reach the desired consistency. If you want it to be thicker, add in a little more confectioners' sugar.


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