Falling for Fall: A Harvest Tableau Part 2

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In  regions where fallen apples are abundant in October, a fresh cider would  complement this collection of simple yet succulent dishes exquisitely.  In lieu of apples or sans local orchards, one may serve the South’s  house wine, sweetened iced tea, tweaked with the season’s spice. Mixing  rosemary into the simple syrup for an iced-tea recipe adds a complexity  to the tea, layering flavors as leaves layer on the forest floor. The  bouquet of black and green teas is paired with the pine-like flavor  said herb lends and is then enhanced with sugar and accented with  citrus and floral notes from a lemony garnish.

For  floral arrangements and table décor, I relish in creating a still-life  of objects found in nature, shed from animal and fowl, tree and vine  – the likes of acorns, fruits, pods and plumes as well as textures  found on the farm, such as burlap and twine. I favor a more muted, non-traditional  color palette for an autumnal tablescape; for, I’ve found inspiration  in the internal soft fleshy orange of cut gourds, the coppery salmon  of sliced persimmons, and of the external colors and textures of citrus  rinds, garnet pomegranates, sea green artichokes, and eggplants  – a depth of purple aubergine only begins to describe.

Shed  deer antlers can serve as a beautifully natural centerpiece to a tablescape  inspired by the earth. The sun bleached bone is aesthetically striking  and equally evocative of the season’s cyclical passing into winter.  Clusters of gathered goose and pheasant feathers, the fallen traces  of a flight southward, are a gentle reminder of September past. Oyster  shells, acorns, and gourds can be easily and artfully scattered down  the table’s center, adding variations in texture, cadence, and charm.

Each  of these objects is found in nature – in the garden, the marsh, or  the woods. A tablescape of natural artifacts of seasons past serves  as a tangible memory, or trophy, a memento mori of the growing seasons, which, with the entrance of autumn, are on the  cusp of turning to winter, that ultimate season of rest. Even if your  home is not within a shell’s throw of a pecan grove or a low country  marshland, the bounties of fall – pecans, sweet potatoes, and garden  greens – are all thankfully found at market. These simple luxuries  are elegant reminders of our connection to the inevitable and cyclical  process of the transforming seasons, of our relation with the ever-changing  natural world around us. From the forfeit of leaves, through this time  of thanksgiving and to the bracing for another year’s end, fall ushers  us into cornucopias of delight, natural grace and elegance – a culmination  of the seasons’ pace and rhythm – into a tableau of all things truly  bright and beautiful.