12 October 2010

Portland Fall


Market Bounty


This weekend, I finally harvested the summer bounty I have been waiting for.

In October.

A few pounds of garden tomatoes, the last of the giant, bottle-size zucchinis, and a handful of lonely, lemon cukes, ready for the picking.

Not too bad for such a strange summer.

I’ve been in Portland long enough to know that it’s just not useful to complain about the weather. The rain will come and go, skies will sometimes be grey, and no matter how much we hate to admit it, it just might hail in the middle of June.


But when times get rough, you know, do-I-really-need-a-hoodie-in-August rough, I remind myself of the sage, if not cynical advice, of my Irish-blooded father with regard to living in this little part of paradise: You knew it was a snake when you brought it home.  Best not complain when it bites ya’.


And I have to tell you, from one Cascadia loving resident to another, it’s hard to find any place in the world more lovely and magical than Portland in the fall. It’s around this time of year when the leaves start changing from a subtle, mossy green to sunset orange, and the air outside smells like rain, rubber boots, and apples.

When the weather just feels cozy.

For the market, Portland fall means stalks of brussels sprouts, early winter squashes, and freshly roasted peppers. It means pumpkins, chai, and bright green collards ready to be sautéed with a touch of garlic, and a whole lotta love. And not to be forgotten, Portland fall is a reminder to us all of what’s possible with a combination of talent, commitment, and healthy earth. Fall is a time when Portland, Oregon really feels like Portland.

But it’s not just the harvest that makes this season so special. It’s also the re-inspiration of moth-balled traditions that invite us all to enjoy this fall season just as much as the last. In October, traditions begin to get dusted off, reinvented, or created right from scratch like a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies.

We can now make fires in our fireplaces, drink hot cider with wild abandon, or just sit in our favorite chairs and watch the rain fall outside. But this time, it comes with less of the curses of late-spring rain, and more with appreciation and child-like wonder of that elusive fall rain smell.

As you’re wandering about the market during these next few months, I encourage you to try something new in your food life. Grab that bizarre looking brassica and talk to your farmer about what she does with broccoli raab. Talk to the honey man and allow him to educate you on how to stay healthy and allergy-free by eating local honey. Grab some hard cider from Wandering Angus, or soft cider from Draper Girls and enjoy it with the people you love.

Dive on in, and start a new tradition.

Nicolette Smith