Monday, November 25, 2013

Labors Of Love

Pear upside down cake
When you live on two semi-rural acres in the mid-Atlantic as I do, with 150-year-old deciduous trees of gigantic proportions, you tend to accumulate a lot of autumn leaves in the yard.  Bushels and bushels of them, in fact.  My yard-maintenance man, Jonathan Haar, will be coming next week to carry them all away, but for right now, vast drifts undulate across my lawn, crunching underfoot and piling up in swells across my doorway so that entering my house requires pushing the door against the heap with some exertion.  As I enter, trespassers swirl around my legs and flutter in beside me.  

The rain gutters on my guest
house get a thorough cleaning
It is this time of year, when so many crackling corpses waft and flit in frosty gusts, that fantasies of hot mulled cider spring to mind. This was especially true yesterday, when temperatures around my house in Baltimore County, Maryland, dipped to 19 degrees Fahrenheit overnight and didn’t rise above freezing all day.  Yet despite the frigid air, the sun shone brightly.  It would be the only day I had available to scoop leaves from my rain gutters before a coming squall arrives tomorrow. 

So I bundled up!  Layers and layers of clothing from head to toe kept me comfortable as I made short work of my leaf-filled gutters and downspouts and prepared my lifeless window boxes for the holiday decorations I hope to put up next weekend.

Pork tenderloin with chopped dates,
roasted cauliflower and a salad made
a perfect Sunday supper
Sliced Bartlett pears are layered over
brown sugar; then the cake batter is
spread over the pears  
Once back inside my toasty abode, I put on my favorite music and turned to the kitchen.  Sunday afternoon is my favorite time for cooking, and cooking is one of my most beloved pastimes. The preparation of food makes me feel incredibly close to my mother, who passed away in 1998 at the age of 83.  On the menu last night was a lean pork tenderloin roasted simply with salt and pepper and then dressed in a relish of chopped dates and cilantro stirred with the pan drippings.  Another delight, cauliflower florets tossed with olive oil, were similarly roasted and then brightened with a tangy lemon-parsley dressing.  A green side salad rounded out the evening’s meal, which I finished with a slice of pear upside-down cake and a small scoop of cinnamon ice cream. 
Cooking is one of the ways I honor
my mother's legacy

With my herb garden outside swathed in layers of burlap to ward off the chill, I sat before a roaring fire in flannel pajamas and drank a toast to my mom.  I think she would have loved the little farmhouse I bought a dozen years ago.  She would have enjoyed how I’ve used her flare for design and d├ęcor to make this home my own.  She would relish the joy I derive from a Sunday afternoon engaged in the culinary arts she so adored.  Ruth Lucile Tobler would have turned 99 years old today.
Happy birthday, Mom.


  1. What a tribute to your mother to say "Happy Birthday" to her!

  2. A tribute to all mothers is reflected in your tribute to yours. Thanks for reminding me how much I love and miss my own Mom.

  3. Cleaning out gutters is not a happy task to accomplish. But if there’s food like these on the table, I would definitely be in a very energetic mode every day. You’re very sweet and I’m sure your mom is happy.

    Chelsea @ Gutter Helmet®

  4. Good thing you were able to clean your gutters before the squall arrived. I can only imagine the damage it could’ve sustained if the snow fell on your leaf-filled gutters! Anyway, I hope your roof wasn’t damaged by the previous snowstorms. Take care!

    Pleasance Faast @ Shelton Roofing

  5. You were quite lucky to have a perfect day to clean up your gutter. Otherwise, it would’ve been quite tricky for you. It’s never fun to do the task when it's already freezing outside. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Meghan Bowers @ Gutter Dome