Summer fades | Traditions remain

Sept. 28, 2017

As summer days grow dim, I find myself drawn by that undeniable charge that compels my return to traditions. The last days of August cast peculiar breezes across this edge of the Alabama Black Belt. I spent those days tending the last of summer’s vegetable garden, removing wilted vines and turning the soil for autumn planting. Hurricane season seems to have kept everyone on their toes this year. In the days prior to Irma’s landfall, unity was found among my family as we took to the outdoors, removing neglected loose tree branches, pruning hedges, and insuring that all things were put away in their place and secure for the impending series of storms. I removed the painted quilt square and placed it in the shop. Throughout the Chattahoochee Valley we all breathed a sigh of relief. Here storm damage was minimal, and widespread power outages remind us of just how much we favor our creature comforts. I’ve spoken with many locals who express desire to travel south to help those who suffered the most.

The clouds cleared, the sun returned, as did that blessed electric current. I’ve put away the emergency candles, and replaced them with Milled Spice, and Salted Caramel. Autumn aroma’s fill the house. I’ve returned the painted quilt-square to the old the shop wall. The thick, greening lawn beckons placement of Adirondack chairs facing west for outdoor reading in the evening. I sit and watch the light fade on these last summer days. It dips nearer the horizon. The horizon from my vantage is a crooked line of wobbles and creases formed in hazy hues of green, formations which intrigue the artistic senses. From warm rays light honey, the light turns to sherbet. 

Inside, the house is warm. The heat of the oven isn’t ideal but the aroma’s that spill from it promise favored recipes encapsulated in revered memory. A Strawberry Layer Cake is a family favorite, made so by my grandmother. Now I bake it. An Extra-Dark Chocolate Cake, I pour into small round pans. When cooled, I stack the layers high. And a Buttermilk Pound Cake, baked year round, evokes that simple sense of –HOME. 

I cool the cakes overnight. By morning light, I pour the combination of strawberry puree and sugar o’er the layers, and guide the drips as it cascades down the sides. A pink jewel will later emerge from the refrigerator, with frosting hardened and adorned with petit roses, I’ll serve this one on the wooden table under the oak tree. I sift through my Grandmothers recipe tin, find a beloved recipe from my great-great Grandmother and listen as the birds sing.       

Sarah West