An unexpected and sudden storm blew in late afternoon last week. The skies in Montana had been thick with smoke from wildfires burning across the West, and the sun hung low and red in a hazy sky. There wasn’t much daylight left for the evening dog walk, so I leashed Pono up and we stepped out onto the front porch. In the same instant a gust nearly took us off our feet and a low rumble of thunder rippled across the sky. We stepped back across the threshold, shut the door, and wandered over to the windows to watch. Within seconds, sheets of rain were marching down the street, one after another, and little pellets of hail danced along the sidewalk.
As I watched the weather unfold, my eyes were drawn to the plants: the grasses, trees, shrubs, flowers. The way they all accepted this turn of affairs, this howling wind. The tall bunchgrasses bowing, bending, gracefully curving with the airflow into a perfect arc. The trees’ branches leaning, like arms reaching out to hug; leaves fluttering but not falling (not yet …). Rose petals folding atop one another, reaching out for one another, wrapping around their stems. And then, in a moment, in a blink: all are standing tall and proud. Almost, it seems, taller and more elegant and more perfect than before, adorned with glistening droplets of rain that refract the red sun’s rays into shades of gold. They don’t deny the wind when it arrives; they don’t let it define them when it’s gone. They go with the windflow–not succumbing to it, but also not defying it or disavowing it. There are lessons to be learned here, I think. Lessons on learning how to live from those that are not sheltered from the elements, the way we can shelter ourselves with armor and stories. The grace and beauty of donning all manner of weather: sunshine and rain, snow and hail, hurricane force winds and gentle breezes.
This storm also stirred in me feelings of a season change. Nearly into September, the nights occasionally dip into the 30s and the burnished grasses rattle rather than rustle. The light shifts. The robins flock to prepare for their fall migration; the deer come down the hillside; the bears begin to patrol the valleys. Everyone stores up the summer’s last rays of sunshine in preparation for some manner of hibernation. And, for those of us who hibernate in the kitchen, we return to the warmth of spices and soups, hot drinks and hearty stews. In preparation, I’ve begun spicing up my nut butters. Here’s a recipe for a cinnamon pecan butter (with an extra kick, if that’s your style).
16 oz raw pecans (whole or pieces)
2 t cinnamon
1/8-1/2 t cayenne (opt.)
2 T real maple syrup (grade B if possible, as it lends a richer flavor)
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 3-5 minutes, until of a smooth and spreadable consistency.
- NOTE: pecans process much faster than almonds, cashews, and some other nuts, so this is ready in a jiff.
- Store in covered glass jar in the refrigerator; use within 2-3 weeks.
- Enjoy on toast, waffles, pancakes, oats … or, as always, straight from the spoon. (Recipe for the giant oat pancake below forthcoming!)