Falling, lentils

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr
wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

R.M. Rilke

What is it about fall that inspires the poets, the songwriters, everybody who loves to transform feelings to words, so much? Or are there just as many songs and stories and evocative one-liners about spring, but are they simply not hitting home with me, because spring itself means so much less to me than autumn?

I’m not sure, exactly. It’s change, ofcourse – change is always a good inspiration point to start when you’re looking for something to write about. The change from one love to no love, from one love to the next, from summer heat to winter chill, from salads and crisp cold beers to stews and rich red wine.


I don’t like change much. But while the change from winter to spring always makes me restless and jumpy (all the green stuff coming out, the promise of new life, it’s depressing to me really) the change from warm and light summer days to the grey and cool days of October, November, makes me happy.

Not your average jump up and down and be giddy with excitement kind of happy. That’s a kind of happy I’m not that familiar with anyway. I'm talking about the slightly melancholy, sad for loss but still content and reliving glowing memories of days gone by, looking forward to turning inwards and being introspective kind of happy.

My kind of happy.

So while people all around me are complaining of the cold and the rain in particular, and about the Dutch climate in general, I’m keeping quiet and think to myself: enjoy it while it lasts.

The only truly sad thing about these chilly days is that I’m too busy to really cook. Because the right appreciation of fall, to me, comes with pots on the stove and pies and crumbles in the oven, the smell of cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg, red wine bubbling, fatty meats sautéing, bacon crisping, onions braising, butter foaming.

It will have to wait till this weekend. On Saturday, my dear friend Maarten is coming for dinner. He loves to eat but doesn’t cook much – so I just sent him an sms: what do you want for dinner? Something with lentils, he replied.

Mmmmmm, lentils, I’m thinking chorizo and caramelized onions, maybe a poached egg on top. Or a soup, subtly spiced with cumin and coriander and cardamom.. or fritters, lentil fritters topped with crumbly salty feta cheese... or something with smoked duck, braised wild rabbit, I haven't cooked any game this fall..

For now, I’ll work, be busy, and in between I'll keep still and listen to the poets, the songwriters, to accompany my fall-feelings.

What’s your favorite fall song?

And I feel like the neighbor's girl who will never be the same,
She walked alone all spring,
she had a boyfriend when the summer came,
He gave her flowers in a lightening storm,
They disappeared at night in green fields of silver corn.
And sometime in July she just forgot that he was leaving,
So when the fields were dying, she held on to his sleeves,
She held on to his sleeves.
And she doesn't want to let go,
Cause she won't know what she's up against,
The classrooms and the smart girls,
It's the end of summer, the end of summer,
When you hang your flowers up to dry.

Dar Williams, End of the Summer

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