Despite not having been on a traditional school calendar for many years, I still get a buzz of excitement each September. The days feel full of potential, as well as newfound motivation and momentum for the work ahead. The French, with their insistence that the month of August exists only as a placeholder while they are on vacation, seem to agree. Observing the tradition of the rentrée, (re-entry) of Parisians into their everyday working world is a unique cultural experience. Overnight the metros are again packed to capacity, although the workforce is now exceedingly tan and somewhat relaxed. I give that positive attitude two weeks (the leathery tans will take longer to fade). Tops.
September is also the gateway to autumn. I love transitional seasons – I cherish the last of the warm days and cuddle up with a cup of tea (and a great book) on cooler nights. I look for any excuse to dust off the Dutch oven. Even better, there have been several recent epic thunderstorms that made me question, if just for a moment, if I knew anyone capable of building an arc. My only hesitation about the inevitable forward march of the seasons is in their affect on my panier. I am just not ready to face all of those apples again.
Turns out, for at least this week, I had nothing to worry about. In fact, the return of rhubarb seems to indicate that Mother Nature is even more confused about the seasons than the rest of us. Colleagues keep telling me that these will be the last of the haricot vert and tomatoes, but they keep coming. Those grapes are heavy with juice and sunshine, even if you do have to eat them over the sink in order to expel the seeds with minimal mess. Only the carrots remind me that root vegetable season is rapidly approaching. However, for today, we had one last summer celebration. A few weeks ago, a new baby boy was born to one of my close colleagues. Unlike in the US, baby showers here are thrown after the baby is brought into this world healthy and safe, lest any premature celebration jinx the mother-to-be. To celebrate I used those carrots to make a cake. Not just any cake, but the most delicious carrot cake I have ever tasted. It could be the brown butter. Or the genius of its creator. Or both. I also finally passed on the baby blanket that has been waiting a while to be gifted. Turns out I got a bit caught up when making it, as it may be the biggest baby blanket known to man. Oh well.
(Credit to Melvin for the excellent photo)
The first week of the rentrée is always full of long morning coffees shared while telling vacation stories, endless organizational meetings and reprioritizing projects. This week was no different and, in the end, was relatively unproductive. I made the best of it, ushering in the ‘new year’ and saying a fond farewell to the summer by roasting that untimely rhubarb with vanilla, orange and brown sugar. Spooned with its syrup over yogurt reminded me that, although I still feel like a kid at this time each year, it is only as an adult that I can have dessert before my dinner.