Monday, November 8, 2021

Catching the leaves

When we drove out of Brooklyn, under the East River, and north up the length of what used to be Manahatta, we didn't know what we would find, in terms of fall foliage. But as soon as we had crossed the George Washington Bridge and put our (new, electric-powered!) wheels upon the tarmac of the beautiful, tree-flanked Palisades Parkway, we breathed happy sighs. The maples were blazing in New Jersey, and the oaks were all still green. Maybe there would still be some color in the old, cold Catskills Mountains.

There was. Almost three hours north of New York City, the oaks held onto their leaves, turning rusty and red in the process. Maples were mostly bare. Beech and alder filled in the gaps.

Our favorite rock was as deserted as ever (except for a bald eagle standing sentry on a high branch over the water), and the place as beautiful. We stumbled onto this spot over ten years ago, one cold autumn when my mother was visiting from Cape Town. This was a lunch stop, with warm fried chicken from a roadside joint and cold apples from a farm stand. Since then the Frenchman and I have returned in every season. An hour beside the water is a restorative infusion.

I go through phases, with picnics, and this late autumn it is on the theme of a wild greens pie. The recipe for the pastry and filling are in the dandelion chapter of Forage, Harvest, Feast - but in this picnic's iteration there was no cheese, and I did include ramp leaf oil, from leaves collected nearby much earlier in the year. Those ramps are now sleeping, dormant until next year. The soup was a quick and delicious one: blewit mushrooms sautéed with bacon and garlic, and then thinned with red wine and mushroom broth. Still piping hot, poured from the Thermos.


  1. Beautiful, peaceful and delicious. Your blog makes me happy and is a beacon for creative living with nature. Who could have imagined that a line about sleeping ramps could be so delightful? I also love the description of the soup.


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