Pumpkin Orange

On the day after Thanksgiving, my clever friend is giving a shower for the sweet bride. She’s asked guests to bring a little gift, a “favorite thing that makes regular life happier when you are seriously cooking, puttering in the kitchen or setting the table,” a picture of you on your wedding day (if appropriate), and a favorite recipe.

It sounds like fun for sure – a treat to honor the bride with this American tradition, a gathering of women who care about her. It will also be a chance to see a variety of wedding dresses – all very different from her pale-pink silk dress for next January’s wedding in Thailand!

I wrote out a version of Molly Bartlett’s “Cranberry Pumpkin Squash” for my recipe. We’ve had it once made with tiny pumpkins and once with acorn squash. It’s cheerful, seasonal, and tasty – and the sweet bride loves squash.

The recipe calls for two small pumpkins or acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, with seeds removed. Place the halves in an ovenproof dish with a lid.

In a saucepan, combine one-half cup of fresh cranberries, one small flavorful apple (cored and chopped into pieces), a quarter cup of currants, one-half cup orange juice, a tablespoon and half of honey or maple syrup, a tablespoon of melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Heat until the berries and apple are just tender.

Fill the squashes with the berry and apple mixture, (I added chopped pecans), cover the dish, and bake till the squash is tender, about 35-40 minutes. Pumpkin orange and cranberry red – festive and delicious.

And the wedding dress picture: our wedding was late September 1969, and a judge flew his small plane to a lake cabin in Alaska to marry us. Those facts surely explain my homemade, pumpkin-orange wool dress!

Lady Baby – Mobile Edition

In early November on my visit to Downtown Abbey, Lady Baby was a few days into her new job as a crawling investigator. For two days we ignored the toy boxes in the living room, as I followed her hands-and-knees progress around the house. But on the third day she figured out how to clutch adult hands and cruise upright – a position she seemed to prefer!

Selma Freiberg wrote “The Magic Years” a long time ago – but her description of a child’s “periods of equilibrium” exactly named Lady Baby’s equanimity this visit.

Her teeth, six so far, are not only through – they are functional. She picks up with her fingers bits of avocado or cheese or Os – puffy circles that seem made of vegetables and air. She captures each one between her front teeth and carefully crunches.

She varies the volume of her concentration hmmmm as she eats, and leans over companionably when I sit next to her at breakfast. While I offer her a spoonful of oatmeal and take a bite of my own, she holds my wrist and investigates rings, watch, bracelet, humming all the while.

The humming sound must have to do with language, she does it as she “reads” books. Approaching an adult bookshelf, Lady Baby pulls out a volume, lowers herself, sits, and, while humming nearly an ohm sound, opens the book’s cover, and concentrates on turning pages. Then she selects another.

Real words come sometimes. She said “book” twice one morning to her mother. And to the surprise of all of us – while looking at grandpa – said “grandpa” twice.

She’s learned that we respond to her shiver of delight – a look of glee that tenses jaw and arms as she lifts them and smiles – and we react with the same movement. The shivers seem to be excitement – spotting her mom, a cat, the dog, or shoes. To get a shoe in hand with buckles and laces is a coup!

Crawling is functional, but guided walking was the big thrill – round and round the downstairs of Downtown Abbey – a circular route, not at the level of a carried baby, or the low down reach of a crawler, but a new height. She stretches one hand out for cabinet handles and drawer pulls, but mostly keeps moving. Walking fast, walking slow, delighting in direction decisions, executing U-turns. Every morning, and after each nap, we started all over again.

A very particular right foot first and straight out lurch-step gave way in a couple of days to an efficient right foot/left foot rhythm. She practiced periods of supported standing – reading books while leaning against a footstool between adult knees, or listening to cheerful songs her mom turned on for us – her little knees bending in time to the music.

It’s a whole new world!

A Giveaway

Suddenly it is thoroughly November, damp and dark. Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! It’s time to embrace the upcoming holidays – such a hedge against the darkness with cheerful lights and color and food.

To get going I always need to inspire myself a little though, so, in a first for Her spirits rose…, just for fun, and in honor of the coming holidays (and in keeping with general jubilation and celebration of a hopeful four more years of moving forward!), I thought I’d try a giveaway on the blog.

When my book “The Year in Flowers: A Daybook” went out of print, I bought the last two boxes. They aren’t making anyone happy in my closet, so three copies are on offer in this giveaway.

“The Year” is a perpetual journal, divided into months but usable for any year – with blank pages for journal entries and record keeping. People have used it to keep track of daily happenings and as a garden or house journal. It’s full of illustrations, and each month has a little essay about finding flowers in my Alaska life.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below about what you look forward to in this season – some little detail about how you organize, a memory of holidays past, or a favorite thing or tradition. Tell how the season makes your spirits rise!

Please comment on this post, “A Giveaway,” by Thursday, November 8 to be included. A random number generator will select three names, and I will mail the books to winners.

I really appreciate the readers who comment here. If you are new to commenting – please join in! After you write your comment, WordPress will ask you for your email to make sure you a real person and not a robot, but the address will not appear in public.

I hope you will participate – I’m looking forward to your holiday thoughts and ideas.