Transitions

We’re stuck on the edge right now. Daily temperatures are reaching up to snag the hemline of summer’s skirt and hold her in place while comforting lentil and pumpkin soups are beckoning from cold-weather kitchens. Our kids are back in school and once again, have well established routines. It’s time to take inventory of the yard, clean it up and plant some winter flowers. I want to go hiking in the middle of a Saturday without risk of heat stroke and dehydration. I want the elections to be history. This year I’m ready for change but sometimes transitions are more difficult.

Heading into Autumn

I envision the day that my kids roll out the driveway to take on the world as one that’ll be excruciatingly hard for me. The onset of an empty nest, an unexpected change in employment, loss of a loved one, shifts in leadership or government – like death and taxes, change is certain. Those who cope well are often masters at reframing change into a positive opportunity. Kids leaving might mean less cash outflow and offer time to pursue other interests. A job change can provide the chance to expand horizons, explore a new area and reinvent oneself.

In his book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, author William Bridges offers stages of transition and suggests that we often navigate it best when we view the changes as seasons. First, brilliant colors turn brown and settle to the earth which indicates that another year is closing. The next phase is winter when the soil lies fallow and hardened beneath bitter cold temperatures. This is a time for quiet reflection while our situation seems lifeless or hibernation. Finally, spring arrives and pale green shoots of life emerge from the earth. We move forward with life once more.

Seasonal eating is much the same. This week our CSA holds the season’s last juicy watermelon nestled against a batch of spicy winter mustard greens. I’m eager to move into comfort foods but view this as an opportunity to blend the seasons and celebrate the change.

Cucumber Watermelon Salad
adapted from Food Network
serves 6

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups diced watermelon
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 bunch mint, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • crumbled feta

Toss onion, watermelon, cucumber and mint. Add olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon and toss. Top with crumbled goat cheese.

Mustard Greens Recipe
adapted from Simply Recipes
Serves 6

Warm Mustard Greens with Sesame Oil

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant. Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve piled onto warm crusty bread.

Can you recall a time when you weren’t quite prepared for change? How did you deal with it?

Leave a comment

77 Comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting book – I’ll have to add it to my list of books to read (eventually).

    So far, having a baby was the biggest change that I wasn’t quite prepared for – no number of baby books could have prepared me for my son! Eventually, I learned to adapt. Despite the unpreparedness on my part, it’s been the best adventure yet! 🙂

    Reply
    • And it will continue to be the best adventure but not with trials and not without change. You’ll celebrate some of it (getting rid of diapers) and you’ll lament others (sending him to school on his first day) but it’s a journey.

      Reply
  2. I’m still holding on to summer enough to make that cucumber watermelon salad look so good!

    Reply
  3. wow, what a great blog post. I really enjoyed reading about the transitions between seasons and how it influence sour eating and othedaily picturs. Great pictures of autumn leaves too

    Reply
  4. What a beautiful post . .seasonal, help with change and then recipes too! Only you! 🙂 I look at this and think you could be on the FoodNetwork’s Chopped program.
    How do I deal with unprepared for change? Prayer! 🙂

    Reply
    • Tammy

       /  October 12, 2012

      Amen Debbie. Prayer each day really grounds us and prepares us for what is ahead.

      Reply
  5. I enjoy life changes (new house, new job, new state) . . . but I have never enjoyed the change of seasons.

    Spring ~ fine.
    Summer ~ grand.
    Autumn ~ uh oh.
    Winter ~ forgetaboutit! 😉

    So maybe I have to apply his ideas in reverse . . . and view the change of seasons the way I do other life changes. 😀

    Reply
    • Tammy

       /  October 12, 2012

      That’s funny Nancy. Just focus on the seasonal food and you’ll be fine.

      Reply
    • Now that we’re in FL, fall/winter/spring are wonderful transitions from the hottest part of the year.

      Our farmer’s market started up last weekend ~ today, we sampled some apple pear bisque and bought lovely pepper, tomatoes, broccoli and kale.

      Reply
  6. The seasons do seem to be aligned with our capacity for endurance. Usually just about when you think you can’t take much more, something new is presented. I had a disappointing watermelon and cucumber summer – two of my favorites.

    Reply
  7. katebart

     /  October 12, 2012

    When I graduated college in 1972, I thought I had the world by the tail! Then along came white water rapids! I was very frustrated and frightened until someone told me to imagine riding on the back of a mountain bike with the Good Lord heading full speed to the bottom. No matter the brush or rocks in the path, I should hold tight, and trust He was getting us to the bottom safely. Might be some cuts and bruises … but He was in full control, and had my best interest at heart. After that, no matter the steepest path, I’ve held tight, and survived some wild rides! A lake as smooth as glass is lovely, but there is nothing like the exhilarating thrill of white water!!! Check out Linda Ellerbee’s “Writing Down the River”. Simply amazing anthology of women dealing with upheaval!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the lovely analogy and for the tip on Ellerbee’s book. I am not familiar with it but am certain that I will enjoy it. Maybe it’ll make it’s way into my Weekend Reading segment over the next year.

      Reply
  8. Oh, for me, it’s actually this year, this winter. In fact, when it comes to winter, I am always unprepared, haha. And now that it is spring here in Canberra, everything looks beautiful, I can even see the smile of flowers every morning. 🙂

    Take care, I hope fall isn’t too bad for you. Don’t worry, you’ll get your spring and summer back next year.. Thank you for the post, many blessings and much love to you.. 🙂

    Subhan Zein

    Reply
    • Actually Subhan, our summers are so brutally hot that we celebrate the fall. It’s a great time here. Do you find that your eating changes from season to season?

      Reply
      • Subhan Zein

         /  October 13, 2012

        Sure, definitely. I eat more during winter, because it’s too cold. Canberra is the coldest in Australia, and it is also the hottest too in summer, it’s very extreme. So we’re pretty much the same.

        Due to my bad eating habit in winter, I am now 75 kg, hitting my lowest. Usually I am 68-70 kg, so I can tell that now I am very fat. Haha, Anyway, having a summer beach body may not be an option this time of the year, as I will still be having a sedentary kind of life style for another kind of style for another couple of months.

        Subhan Zein

        Reply
  9. Sally Mom

     /  October 13, 2012

    Such a lovely post and timely. I adore all seasons and the changes in weather, diet, plants and trees. I will try hard to find a watermellon and give that fabulous salad recipe a try! graduating from highschool and joining the army, living far from home in what some thought a hostile enviornment, was hard for my parents, not for me. Many challenges and changes, some hard and some welcomed. The hardest was not raising four boys and all the challenges and joys that accompany that fantastic journey, but that of caring for and helping to transist from this world to the next, loved ones. No matter how much you are prepared and comforted in knowing where they go, it is sometimes a lonely journey. My wonderful family and friends and so many great new books, recipes (thanks in part to you) and new journeys, all exciting and waiting to explore. It is cold here now and Hot Pot soup with lots of winter veggies and seafood are on the agenda tonight, but that watermellon salad will be on the table this week!
    That was a great post Tammy. I wish you and the boys here to walk in the wind and falling leaves today.

    Reply
    • Interesting perspective Sally and one that I failed to notice. While the boys growing up is difficult for me, they embrace every step. So when does it change? With parenthood?

      Reply
  10. I love the way you weave your thoughts on different facets of life all together. It’s all one life, after all. The book sounds just right for this time in my/our lives as well as this time on earth. Thank you.
    Eleanor

    Reply
    • Yes. I also enjoy the weaving together of different facets of life. I like the way you put that, Nourishing Words.

      Reply
    • This week I was inspired by Molly Wizenberg whose book I intend to review in the coming weeks. She writes beautifully and weaves the food into it.

      Reply
  11. As I keep learning about myself, I’ve realized that I am resistant to change in general. At first. I need to allow myself time to process before I can move on. Realizing this has made a big difference in my latest season of change. As I feel stress brewing just below the surface, I can remind myself that I will adapt and it will be okay. I hope I will be able to manage when the changes are bigger and more significant. I will keep practicing as I face the more minor changes.

    Reply
    • Melissa, self awareness is one of the best skills/talents/gifts any person can have. Since you are aware of those feelings, it’s really possible to work with them.

      Reply
  12. Tammy, this piece is so gorgeously written: a synthesis of food, season and thought that capture the ephemeralness of time in each of these. A great twist on how we often try to capture this season. -Renee

    Reply
    • Thank you for the compliment Renee. As I mention above, I’ve been inspired this week by the writing of Molly Wizenberg. One reviewer calls each of her essays a jewelbox. That’s the effect I was striving for.

      Reply
      • unpackedwriter

         /  October 14, 2012

        It worked… great zoom in, zoom out again bringing all the pieces with you!

        Reply
      • unpackedwriter

         /  October 14, 2012

        Will have to check out Wizenberg… new to me.

        Reply
  13. Lisa H

     /  October 13, 2012

    I am looking forward to the transition into cooler weather. Currently, the vegetable beds are bare, getting ready to plant peas, carrots and lettuce. How funny that here in Phoenix our new planting season is starting, just as other areas are beginning to show signs of fall. Our windows and doors are wide open, drinking in the coolness of the mornings and the sounds of birds replacing the drone of the air conditioner.

    Reply
  14. beautiful post Tammy…my mum wrote me a letter when I first came here and it was very similar. She wrote about the changes in life that she experiences with all 3 sisters out of the nest and changes that i’ll experience as an individual as I fly out of the comfort zone. Took me back to times!

    Never had watermelon with feta but I have some ricotta at home which might taste good with it. What do you think?

    Reply
    • How lovely to receive a letter like that Rukmini! It’s such a gift and you can always treasure it. Maybe when my boys grow, I’ll do something similar inspired by your mom. i’m not a huge ricotta fan but you should try it and see how you do.

      Reply
  15. We are wet and chilly here…in a way down right cold. I have built a fire in the wood stove for two days now, letting it die down at night so we can enjoy the cool of a night for sleeping. Winter is fast approaching, that is for sure.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • How quickly it changes in some places and here, it’s been a slow languid change. I guess that’s like life also?

      Reply
  16. Just the colours from those salads are so tempting, Tammy. Lovely post.

    Reply
    • They are lovely. Personally, I loved the greens on rustic bread. That’s a comfort dish all the way.

      Reply
  17. Great Post Tammy. I was reading along and thinking your point about it being easier to deal with changes/transitions if you think of them as seasons is so interesting. I think this could be why I have such a challenging time working through changes/transitions where I live now the seasonal change is so subtle here. I am almost desperate to experience seasons as I remember them growing up. They make me feel grounded.
    I am still not over the transition of moving from Alaska to Southern CA and we moved 7.5 years ago. It challenges me everyday.

    Reply
    • There’s no denying that we’re affected by our environment. Alaska to So Cal is a huge change and would be for anyone and maybe there is something more to the bit about seasons than just using them as an analogy. It’s an interesting thought.

      Reply
  18. Tammy – I always enjoy your blog and found this post especially insightful. I can relate to the concept of the seasonality of transition, and find it comforting in putting into better perspective the huge life change I’ve recently experienced upon retiring. This framework of seasonal change will be helpful to me in remembering it’s ok, and indeed beneficial, to sit still and quietly listen to my mind and heart before taking on my next venture. No doubt my spring will bring exciting new activities and challenges. For now, I am content and grateful for the opportunity I have to experience my own autumn and winter.

    Reply
    • Your change is one of those that I thought about when writing Janie. It looks so fulfilling to those of us watching you but I know that all change creates some type of stress – even good change. I have no doubt that you’ll have an abundant spring – it simply will manifest from wherever you choose to put those thoughts now.

      Reply
  19. Lovely words, Tammy. I wish we had the CSA operating here. Downunder, we’re so glad to have winter over and we’re longing for the summer to begin. We’ve had some hot days but this past week has been shockingly cold. It was snowing in the mountains! xx

    Reply
  20. I can’t even tell you how much I love this post! I struggle with transitions. I panic a bit. I feel like a girl with only summer clothes heading into winter. Love the idea of thinking of it as a season. Definitely looking into that book! and copying your recipes.

    Reply
    • The winter greens are especially tasty and so full of good nutrients. They’re also very versatile and you can pop them into soups or pastas or as a side dish.

      Reply
  21. What a beautiful post and the reference to the change of season. I love your recipe for the mustard greens. I JUST used mine up in pasta 🙂 But I must try this recipe next time!

    Reply
    • Well, it’s the time of year when they keep coming so I think you’ll have ample opportunity to try it and a zillion other recipes. We have mizuna now and I use it the same way. The sesame oil really dresses them up.

      Reply
  22. Watermelon and cucumber sound like a great combination! Have a lovely Sunday 🙂

    Reply
    • It is a great combination as long as the cucumber is peeled and seeded. Otherwise, the bitterness destroys the fresh hydrating sense of this salad. What do you do with cucumbers Tandy?

      Reply
  23. I absolutely loved your post!

    We grew a very successful small family garden this year and as Stephanie were harvesting our final batch of tomatoes, we were a bit saddened as we watch are plants growing cycles come to an end. But, our conversation quickly turned to the excitement for next year’s planting and the beginning plans for next year’s garden. We spoke of the different plant placements (corn in the back this time), timing of planting and variety of plants. So as we pluck the last tomato, we decided to make spaghetti sauce with our vast collection of tomatoes being careful to not waste any of our garden’s production.

    Clearly, you are right that looking to the season’s gives us great instruction on our lives. Thank you for the post and the recipes.

    Reply
    • Thank you Chris. I love homemade spaghetti sauce as much as anything. Gardening is such a great family activity and all sorts of studies show that it makes kids better eaters. And yes, the garden is a metaphor for our lives and for the changes and experiences that we see within it. We are planting this weekend as we have a winter growing season and I’m looking forward to it.

      Reply
  24. I loved reading your transistions post! I love your both recipes but love the last the most! That’s my type of real foods! 🙂 Yumm!

    Reply
    • You and I have similar taste in real food Sophie! What are your favorite greens and how do you like to prepare them?

      Reply
  25. Lovely post, Tammy! Fall has always been my favorite time of year. It’s beautiful, but there is a bittersweetness to it, since summer has come to an end, and winter is on it’s way. A metaphor for life, as you point out.

    Reply
    • Indeed. In AZ we are so ready for the transition. Worked to get the garden ready on Saturday with good soil and fence to keep the rabbits out. I’m excited for this change.

      Reply
  26. Seasons do change–ready or not. My northern daughter, now Arizona based daughter rejoiced at not air-conditioning overnight recently, so at least she is ready!

    Reply
    • Oh, it is such a joy not to have the AC blasting! I can’t believe how much I love it not running.

      Reply
  27. Yes, Tammy, we were on parallel tracks with this one! Great minds, and all that. Here’s to the changes of the season.

    Reply
  28. Your food looks so inviting! I only really discovered mustard greens a couple of years ago when I grew them for the first time (a tempting packet of seeds and away I went!). Love your pairing of the sesame oil, it sounds so tasty !

    Reply
    • Thank you Claire. I first had the greens at a community garden several years ago. I ate them raw and loved the spicy kick. When I got home, I made a salad of them and quickly learned that I was alone in my love for them. Cooking them removes that kick and they mellow out really well especially with the sesame oil. Do you have a winter garden?

      Reply
  29. Ellen

     /  October 16, 2012

    Really enjoy reading your blog, Tammy, as I take stock during my current transition into retirement. I have a similar recipe to yours that I love; using kale instead of mustard greens. I add tamari soy sauce instead of sesame oil and a pinch of chipotle chili pepper. Yum! My husband prefers mustard greens, though, so I plan on trying your suggestion..

    Reply
    • What an honor that you are here reading this Ellen. I love kale and would eat it three meals a day if it showed up. Your idea of soy and chili is a good one but I think you’d like this too. And adding a bit of spicy heat wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

      Reply
  30. Your recipes always make me hungry. And love how you weave things all together. This book sounds right up my alley and I think I will check it out.

    Reply
    • To be fair, I have not read it cover to cover but when I do or if you do, please do a review. Love to see what other people think of literature.

      Reply
  31. Love the idea of envisioning transition as seasons. And my gosh, yes, sometimes transitions are more difficult than changes.

    How fun, us posting melon/watermelon recipes within weeks of each other. I can’t wait to try this one!

    Reply
    • The key to this recipe Estrella is the peeling and seeding of cucumbers. Otherwise it can be bitter. I fear that was the last melon and now we’re moving steadily deeper into greens. Hope you enjoy those too.

      Reply
  32. Hello Tammy, I love the transition in your recipes, I do not know the mustard greens, something like kale, I suppose. Just had some today, Indian way. Delicious. Transitions of Seasons like transitions in our life, our Autumn, enjoying all we have harvested over the years, mature years filled with experiences and gratitude.

    Reply
    • Lovely comment Isa. I like the Indian greens also and your description of harvesting over the years.

      Reply
  33. I’m a fan of seasons. So I guess I’m a fan of transitions as well? Okay, I love the change of seasons because I love to look forward, but at the same time, tansitions (in my own life) come rather hard to me. Probably, though, I should just see them like I see the change of seasons – something to look forward to – and it would be much easier for me? 🙂

    Reply
  34. This sentence is the best sentence I’ve recently read, Tammy: “Daily temperatures are reaching up to snag the hemline of summer’s skirt and hold her in place” That is awesome! The “hemline of summer’s skirt”…what a lovely phrase. I am yearning for that mustard green recipe. Will get some next time we’re at the co-op and have some. Thank you.

    Reply
  35. Thank you for the compliment! Let me know if you try the mustard greens. They aren’t for everyone but they are sure coming right now in our CSA.

    Reply
  1. Transitions « Green-ish Life

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