The changing of the seasons here in Michigan has been doing its thing in recent months without much ado from me. Typically I get all wound up in it, embracing and letting go with deep emotion, as if the seasons were my children, flowering and then moving on without me.
I’m sort of surprised, and sorry in a way, to think that summer left and I didn’t really mind. That’s unheard of in my canon of life: you don’t just let summer go without a tear. You don’t do it.
Maybe that’s because it was unseasonably cool this year. More likely it’s because I’ve been way too busy for my own good, my head down in the books (just one book, my own) and moving and etc etc etc. I’m a long way from the life of solitude and cooking and writing that has made up the better part of the last few years, which is just fine because I’m doing the things I want to do (like this and this, and then there’s a house project I’ll tell you about)—but busy is a card I hate to pull even slightly, knowing that, well, everybody is too busy.
The hectic, though, has kept me from taking and sharing as many photos as I normally do (I promise, Postcards from Up North will make a come-back!).
And since that’s become my way of really entering into and loving my place, wherever that may be but especially Up North, not doing it makes me feel as though something isn’t quite right, as though I’m not properly giving homage to the seasons.
Despite me, the fall color in Michigan has offered her annual blaze of reds and yellows against our evergreens, and now, just as they’re headed out, I’m standing in the door with their coat, refusing to let them go. They’re going whether I give them the coat or not, turns out, so all I can do is head back inside to reminisce about their loveliness with my photos from recent years.
I’m also holding on to the color from my kitchen, where I keep making this incredibly good, crunchy, chunky Lebanese salad with all of our favorite flavors (tomato, cucumber, lemon, mint) and then some (feta, avocado). The tomatoes are small and good and they give me another kind of blaze of reds and yellows against green, one I can keep deliciously close all the way until next fall, when there’ll be many new photos taken, and much ado about it all.
Tomato Cucumber Salad with Avocado and Feta
It’s best that the avocado be firm-ripe (but not hard), so that when squeezed there is a hint of give—just not quite the softness we look for with guacamole in mind, otherwise the avocado chunks won’t hold their shape.
Makes 8 servings
4 Persian or pickling cucumbers
1 quart multi-colored cherry and other small tomatoes
1 avocado, firm-ripe
2 scallions, thinly sliced
10 mint leaves, cut in chiffonade or torn in small pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then into 1/2-inch chunks. Slice all of the cherry tomatoes in half.
To cut the avocado, cut it in half lengthwise. Firmly stick the blade of a paring knife into the pit, then turn and remove the pit with the knife, pulling the pit off the knife once removed. Cut the avocado in each half-cup crosswise and lengthwise into 1/2-inch squares. Use a medium-sized spoon the remove the cut avocado flesh.
In a medium serving bowl, dress the cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and scallions with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper (no need to mix the vinaigrette first; just add the ingredients directly to the salad). Toss the salad gently, top it with the mint leaves and feta, and serve immediately or chill, covered, before serving.