The autumnal equinox, which arrives today, mid-afternoon, marks the time of year when day equals night, twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night, and when the Sun rises due east and sets due west. A time to look back at summer’s joys and anticipate autumn and the blessed times in the near future. (Awaiting arrival of first grandchild!)
According to Greek mythology, Persephone and a few pomegranate seeds caused the change of the seasons. The Autumn Equinox marks the day when Persephone enters the underworld, and her mother Demeter, in mourning, refuses to allow anything to grow on the earth (well, at least in the northern hemisphere) until her daughter returns in six months time.
As the myth goes, Hades, god of the underworld, kidnaps Persephone and takes her into his world. Her mother, Demeter, with the help of other deities, finally finds her daughter in the underworld. Hades unhappily agrees to allow Persephone to return to her mother, but only if she has not eaten anything while in the underworld. Unfortunately, Persephone has eaten six pomegranate seeds. Hades and Demeter reach an agreement, and Persephone must spend 6 months with Hades and six months with her mother every year. On the Autumn Equinox, Persephone enters the underworld and does not return until Spring Equinox.
It seems appropriate, on this first day of autumn, to gather the harvest and spend time in the kitchen. The tomatoes of all sorts — a few Big Boys, the last of the Romas, and a wild variety of heirlooms — combine to make a tomato sauce honoring the day. Instead of the quick sauces of the summer, I spend my time in the kitchen blanching, peeling, and seeding the tomatoes, then add garlic and onions, and long simmer until it’s a perfect sauce for the freezer. Late summer tomatoes are a such welcome treat as the daylight shrinks.
Giving thanks, too, for this summer’s remarkable harvest, delivered fresh to my door courtesy of my local CSA. (Thanks, CrossRoads Community Farms!
Bo Mackison is photographer, book-artist, collector of stories, naturalist, curator and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Celebrating the Autumn Equinox with a freshly made batch of tomato sauce, a delicato squash pizza in the oven, and Green Bay Packer football.