The many layers of fall

The many layers of fall

Most everyone I know prefers summer. To me, nothing beats the complex curiosities of fall.

Most of my friends lust after summer — the ever-present sunshine, the unfailing warmth, the buzz of activity.

I get it. I enjoy bight days. And yet..

I prefer fall. Winter’s bitter edge has worn me down (too many sad slogs in the early months of the year). Spring is fickle, sometimes out to lunch. And summer is just… a lot. A lot of heat, a lot of frenzy, a lot of must-do activities. A lot.

Fall gives me permission to be cozy and quiet. To wrap myself in blankets and, without apology, celebrate my unusually large sweater collection.

This layering is the hallmark of my fall culinary exploits, too. Soups and stews take center stage, each one more adventurous than the last. What starts quite simply with onion, carrots, kale, and chicken stock becomes a vehicle for roasted duck and Parmesan broth. Swiss chard and cannellini beans . Red potatoes and a dash (or perhaps more) of curry.

All this patchworking makes me wonder if I’m not secretly enamored of complexity. My imperfect body (as I see it, anyway) can hide behind a one-size-too-large T, a charcoal wool sweater, and a denim jacket. My off-the-wall inclusion of olives in a kitchen-sink stew can fade into the background if the piquant brine is just bit too jarring. My poetry can heap emotion on vignette on philosophy, forgetting the bounds of logic.

I can fold myself into many layers, dissecting each one with colorful questions and irresolvable thoughts.

Nature’s layers support my piling on: leaves shingle color upon color, falling in heaps to sidewalks and streets; clouds top each other in cerulean Jenga; families string lights over decorations over trellises above windows.

What’s actually happening beneath all of this? Do we layer to fool ourselves into some measure of happiness? To forget the simple, uncomfortable truth beneath?

Or do we layer out of honest joy and free-soul whimsy?

Perhaps it’s both. It’s probably both.

Whatever fires us this time of year, one thing is for certain: I’m always happier in layers.

Now, I’m off to slide into an oversized hoodie and make my soon-to-be infamous roast chicken and fennel stew.

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