Cloudy Fall Morning

comments: 106










Cloudy, and I can almost feel water in the air for the first time in ever so long. Hallelujah. Happy dance. Suddenly, under the flat gray light, I can see the fall colors. More dancing. I harvested the onions, a couple of eggplants, my precious butternut squash, another smattering of candy-sweet tomatoes this morning. I still can't get over what those tomatoes taste like. The vegetable beds are quite worn out. I thought about watering and decided, again, to let it go. I'm not sure how much is left to take out. Sweet potatoes — I don't think they did much. Carrots — the one I pulled was about the size of one of those little yellow Ikea pencils. This garden was a great experience for me.

Out there, the sound of acorns falling from the great oaks onto the pavement and the tops of cars. It's the sound of my childhood Septembers. The constant pinging of falling acorns on Forest Avenue. We had so many ancient oak trees there, and that sound of acorns falling, and bouncing, like other sounds from that place — freight trains coming then going, the cooing of an unseen mourning dove in the morning, cicadas, another freight train — is something I feel like I never hear enough. It's a sound you don't remember you've forgotten until you hear it. And it sounds like it's all yours.

I've decided to become a frozen-food person, and this morning put frozen pizza dough and two little frozen chicken pot pies from the bakery (where I go almost every morning to get a chai — kind of a little luxury I allow myself) in the freezer. It felt kind of like the year that my friend Allyson and I decided that we were French and wore stripes and scarves and spoke only Franglais, or the time I decided that I was a ballerina, and stood, whenever still, in fifth position. Or sometimes first position. Usually fifth, so there would be no mistake. This morning I decided that I would be one of those people who cooks things like soups and stocks and chilis and curries in big batches and freezes them in clearly labeled containers, and who then, when she is hungry, takes them out and cooks them for dinner. Eureka! This actually seems do-able. I have very low expectations for myself with meal planning. But this seems do-able. I have a freezer, and electricity. I want to believe.

September mornings forever remind me of traveling around Europe when I was a lass. I pulled out my scrapbook from that trip this morning. I haven't looked at it in ages. Photo taken in September of 1990, in Berlin, when I was twenty-one.


I've been getting pelted with acorns while walking under the oak trees in the U of C quads for the past month! Those squirrels have good aim at passersby. Beautiful photos, as ever.

I, too, am trying to become one of those organized freezer-people! A dear friend often sends me home with lovingly packaged, labeled containers of frozen soup when I'm looking frazzled, and it's simply marvelous.

You look lovely in that pic and I love the other pics as well! :-)

You are just so gosh-darn cute! I remember standing in first position when a little girl and walking with my toes pointed out, just hoping people thought I was a ballerina. No such luck for me. I should have tried fifth position.

Oh my goodness, I saw that pic of you and thought, oh what movie did she watch and who's that actress?? I've decided to become that freezerish type of person as well! I made mac and cheese and bbq pulled chicken last week and halved them and put the uneaten halves in the freezer and I felt OH SO IMPRESSED with myself :)

I never realized we are almost the same age. I enjoy your blog so much. Your pictures are just beautiful, you make me want to move to Portland. I do not understand why but I think pizza dough that has been frozen tastes better.

Ahh, we are about the same age and my hair looked just like yours in 1990. Also had a jean jacket just like yours!!

you are just as gorgeous now, and I bet twice as sassy. good luck with being a freezer. I make that resolution every year, and sometimes keep it somewhat. usually I want to eat whatever I'm cooking Right Then so it doesn't make it into the freezer, but you might have more willpower....or is it a longer view? in any case, you've inspired me once again. I'm going to freeze things this year!

So beautiful!

You are 21 in the photo?? I thought it was from much younger than that! ;) The sound of big batch soupy cooking and freezing is very alluring... I may have to follow suit...

Only you can make weedy, spent hostas look so beautiful.

absolutely beautiful, european-looking photo of you. you won't be able to have that 'what's for din?' conversation for a while after you freeze your meals. what a relaxing concept. one of my new(er) couch pillows has an indent from...well, you know what from... will yours have that? miss clover will assist in that endeavor. i found three acorn caps with stems attached yesterday. perfect for crafting. as always, beautiful post.

Would you please tell us locals the bakery you go to? I promise to go later in the day.....

There you go! A great idea to become a Freezer Cook. I do exactly that but on a rather small scale because I don't have a freezer.....(Oh, but I wish I did) I make alot of POTS OF dishes, as you mentioned, and I freeze enough for a dinner for two x's 2. So, that for those days when my body isn't cooperating we can have a delicious and comforting dinner. We are also the most UN-picky eaters in the world and we can eat the same soup or stew for days til it is gone..but it is also nice to have something good in the freezer to share with someone who is not well and could use a hot meal. I'm in the age group where my friends are having their knees and hips replaced, etc. So, I think you are onto something that will be fun and very 'rewarding' on those cold and gray days.
Your picture is absolutely L O V E L Y. I did the same thing at 20 in Denmark...and I looked into your face and remembered 'so much'. You are always very shy so may I be one of your friends who say thankyou for sharing this photo with us. smile Enjoy, your cool and gray day. Hello to Pupper!

Very pretty picture of you. 21...makes me flash back to then.

There is no more secure feeling than knowing you have dinner stashed in the freezer. I am willing to cook madly for a weekend in order to enjoy that feeling for a whole month.

Alicia, I so get the tomato thing.

Sometimes, when you are out there eating those exquisite tomatoes (I have them too), and they burst in your mouth with flavors unlike anything, do you ever feel like the following?:

The Willi Wonka kids licking the flavored wallpaper and saying, the bluebberries really taste like blueberries, and the snozberries really taste like snozberries :) Or whatever they say.

I certainly find myself in the garden saying, "the tomatoes REEAAAALLY taste like tomatoes!!!!"


Love the Berlin you photo shot. Love it!

Great post! I was never a meal planning person at all until last year when I convinced myself that I was a frozen food person. You are right it is totally doable; it changed my life. I have meals ready to warm up and it takes very little effort. I mostly just made double meals for about a month and lo and behold I had a months worth of food in my freezer. After that I only had to stock up when I felt like cooking something specific and had the time.

However, in the summer I am a grab what ever is in the garden and what every you can slap on the grill person. It provides balance!

Karen in Michigan says: September 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM

I'm a "freezer person" in the winter. In the summer I tend more toward salads, but come fall, out comes the crockpot. I made a big pot of chicken curry a week and a half ago. I still have some bean soup from the last batch, but the turkey is all gone and so are the roast vegetables. As a single person working long hours, it's a great way to have a hot, homecooked meal when I get home. And much better than a TV dinner or "meal for one."

You look so cool in Berlin! :)
Also love that acorn shot!!
I'm thinking of the autumn meal plan as well... gotta love those freezers.

I live in Oak Park, and think you must be speaking of either Oak Park or River Forest when you talk about your childhood. I did not grow up in Illinois, but will say that the trees are awesome in the fall, especially the gingkos which turn such a bright yellow and keep their leaves long after all the others

Geez....did Fall hit overnight in your neighboorhood? What a change. Beautiful shots...beautiful look back.

Love your September memories and freezer hopes!

thank goodness for you and your make me want to take a walk with my camera...and then write about it...thank you xoxo

lovely lovely photos (especially the one of you) but we do get better with age no? yes. in sept 1990 i was 34 and had the sweetest little 5 month old boy you ever saw. we spent the entire fall swinging in our porch swing and i made up silly songs about pumpkins and squirrels as the cool breeze smelled of dried leaves and corn stalks. our 1st child had died suddenly at age 3 and i still remember how that fall of 1990 seemed...redeemed somehow and bittersweet but in an almost euphoric way...i was so thrilled to have that little fellow...who is now 6'3"...fall is the best best time ever. enjoy your freezing and think how good it will feel this winter!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at