As the sun slouches lower each day, we slip into another sleepy school year. If you have kids in school, you recognize the subtle descent into the long dark. In your head, you can hear Ned Stark’s bleak voice declare, “Winter is coming.”
But fear not! We’re here to remind you that this is a season to be savored. (And don’t worry; we’re not going to gush over the perennial appearance of everyone’s favorite latté flavor.) So rub your tired eyes and stay up with us a little while longer; we’ll show you there is autumnal enjoyment waiting for you right here at home. Pull up a seat and hunker down for an evening.
Let’s start with an enduring ancient tradition: the fire. We humans have been making fire for at least a few hundred thousand years, if not longer. We’re so good at it, we’ve automated the burning of fuels a thousand different ways. But meet some fellow humans around a wood fire, and it’s hard not to feel a distinctly prehistoric feeling of wonder.
This fall, gather your family in that primal circle, and take a break from the 21st century. Watch the red-glow reverence on your kids’ faces as the embers cast their spell. Just be for a while. There’s an old magic in the air around a fire. It certainly cast a spell on our family last week. By the time the first bundle of logs had been spirited away, the kids had been transported from bumbling boredom to buoyant beatitude.
If you get a little bored “just being” by the fire, you can participate in that other primitive tradition: making and eating food. One of our favorites is pizza. The dough is just about the easiest recipe out there, and you can get your kids kneading and learning about the chemistry (if you’re so inclined).
When we made pizza last week, our kids loved talking about how the “east” (yeast) made the dough rise. And they still devoured the dough after looking at pictures of the single-celled culinary companions. It’s a good vehicle for vegetable consumption as well. We patted ourselves on the back for all the greens we loaded on (though it was tongue-in-cheek, as our boasting was couched between gobs of dough and cheese). I would have had you try some, but our plans for leftovers didn’t quite pan out.
With the pizza thoroughly demolished, is there yet another ancient tradition upon which we may call? Yes, there is. The Egyptians of antiquity made a medicinal substance from mucilaginous extracts of Althaea officinalis, commonly known as the marshmallow plant. Granted, we have simplified the recipe since then, but it certainly still makes a great addition to any fire. At our fire,
Liam favored a flambé approach, bravely biting the blackened morsels, while Aurora seemed satisfied with wiggling the stick in the general direction of the fire, asking every thirty seconds if it was done.
No matter how you cook your marshmallow, take some time this autumn to gather your friends and family around the fire and enjoy fall for what it is. Maybe we’ll see you at our next fire!