The Last Phase is the Most Glorious

The growing season is pretty much over here in Colorado. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden there will still be the occasional snow-covered leaves of kale to harvest, or maybe one last head of cabbage to pull from the cold, hard ground. This Saturday the lot where farmers stands piled high with produce all summer was empty. Living at Zone 5 on the plant hardiness map teaches you to really savor the seasons. Winter is long, and when spring finally arrives at the end of May she’s slow to reveal herself. It seems like all we get is radishes and salad greens forever, until August when summer arrives and gives us everything all at once: peaches, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, peas, zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers. The bounty of summer overwhelms us and we hardly have time to appreciate it all. September and October lull us into complacency with seemingly endless offerings of pumpkins and hot peppers, but apples and pears freshly plucked from the tree hint that a change is coming. Autumn turns abruptly to winter here in Colorado, and the first snow in October snaps us back into reality- the barren season of our Zone 5 winter is approaching. A visit to the final farmers market of the season reveals the beauty of nature even at the end of the growing season in November. I’m reminded of a favorite line from the movie, The Calendar Girls:

The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire. Every stage of their growth has its own beauty,

but the last phase is always the most glorious. 

Carrots and Parsnips from the Boulder, Colorado Farmers Market (c)2012 La Domestique

All the flashy produce is gone, and with no tomatoes or peaches around to steal the show, the workhorse vegetables get a chance to shine. A handful of carrots and parsnips makes me feel as rich as a pound of gold, and stumbling upon a gigantic head of radicchio is like winning the lottery.

Radicchio from the Boulder, Colorado Farmers Market (c) 2012 La Domestique

I eagerly fill a paper bag with gnarly knobs of Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes), dreaming of how tender and delicious these roots will be when I  slice and sauté them in butter with walnuts and herbs.

Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) from the Boulder, Colorado Farmers Market (c)2012 La Domestique

A wild and bushy bunch of celery makes me think of a pot of stock simmering on the stovetop, and all the wonderful soups I will make this winter. Excited by celery? It must be the end of the season.

Celery from the Boulder, Colorado Farmers Market (c) 2012 La Domestique

 The last phase is truly the most glorious.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, 

Jess, Len, and little Minnie 

What is your favorite part of the end of the growing season? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Click Here. 

15 Comments

  1. I love this! I feel so spoiled sometimes, not truly knowing what it feels like to have such an abrupt end to a growing season. There are no peaches or tomatoes here in the winter, but we get all the brassicas and greens and citrus throughout winter. I think I should live somewhere without it just to get a sense for it. And an appreciation. Hurrah for being able to celebrate celery.

    Reply
    • Kimberley,

      I often wonder what it would be like to live in this strange land called “California” where vegetables grow year-round. You guys have it good there, but you’re right, there’s something to those empty winters that really teaches a person to appreciate the seasons, and things like celery. :)

      Reply
  2. Beautiful post and photos! I haven’t thought about the end of the growing season in 5 years because I spent the last while living in Arizona where winter’s citrus season really was the star of the year, along with the most beautiful greens, carrots & cauliflower! It’s been really nice to anticipate the winter now that we’re in Denver, and it’s made me reflect back on all the veggies and fruits that the farmers market brought this summer and fall, and all of the fun evenings that went along with them. I agree that this time of year is the best. All the squash and carrots and celery turn into comfort in a bowl, which is perfect on a snowy day. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Reply
    • Thank you Valerie! It’s so great to read your perspective. My husband spent several years in Arizona, and he loved it. I know you’ll enjoy our cold and snowy Colorado winter- great for cooking comfort food! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

      Reply
  3. Such a lovely post. I do enjoy celebrating every season, too, it makes the beginning of a new one that much more exciting. Happy Thanksgiving to you!!

    Reply
    • Happy Thanksgiving Nicole! Thanks for popping by!

      Reply
  4. I’m a big fan of celery soup! Simple and elegant. We just stocked up on our winter share: apples, beets, greens, potatoes (yellow and sweet), onions, garlic, goat cheese, eggs, honey, herbal tinctures…which all means there will be soup, roasted vegetables, frittatas, apple tarts, and more in the coming weeks and months. Happy Thanksgiving, Jess!

    Reply
    • Nikki,
      Celery soup sounds like a great idea. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Reply
  5. I live in Zone 2, so there is nothing that makes it through the winter. The market will have root veg to last, and the greenhouses will pump out greens for a bit, but winter here is very long and I ache for those tomatoes and peaches from the summer. Love that line from Calender Girls. So true! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours :)

    Reply
    • Renee,
      I cannot imagine what winter is like in Zone 2! How do you get through it? xo Jess

      Reply
  6. As much as I whine about the humidity down here…the growing season is pretty awesome. I just stopped at a farm stand and they were just opening for the season! They had Texas grapefruits, satsumas, pecans, etc. Then, we are so close to S. America that I see all sorts of tropical fruits and vegetables make their way here too. Just that darn humidity! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Len, and little Minnie!

    Reply
    • Sarah,
      You are lucky in that respect, but it is hard to deal with all that heat and humidity. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

      Reply
  7. Jess, thanks for a “delicious” post. That celery looks so good that I just want to grab it from the photo and make some salad with it: love celery, tops an bottoms (roots in this case) :) This post made me root vegetables hungry. On Thanksgiving day we went on a little road trip, come see your home town and surroundings. Not too much of the town though. Are you coming to FS for Christmas? I’d like to meet with you for a coffee … :)

    Reply
    • Marina,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I won’t be making a trip home any time soon, but next time I’ll be sure to give you a heads up. Thanks for popping by!

      Reply
      • We are here through June of the next year when my husband graduates from his residency program, then we are moving back to Seattle. So if you make it here in the next seven months, let me know, please! Have a lovely week… :)

        Reply

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