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An Autumn's Transcendence

It is a wonderful reminder that we are part animal, even while we search for the divine. It is a memento of the past that we are leaving, as well as a reminder of the future we are heading toward, leaving us somewhere between the two.
11/04/2014 10:39am ET | Updated January 4, 2015
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I made a dish of skate and scallops in a lemon brodetto this weekend. It was a meditation on our own transcendence in a way. Roasted skate and lightly-seared scallops atop a bed of browned pumpkin, all floating in a chicken broth simmered with a puree of lemons and oregano and marjoram.

It was delicious. It was satisfying in a way that a summer's meal never could be. It was rich and warming without the heft of a winter's braise. It was a sign of the Oso Buccos, the stews and tagines to come, but not until we have the long nights of wintry weather that it takes to truly enjoy them.

The body and soul are funny this way. Both call out for what they need, when they need it, and this weekend was the trigger that signaled the shift from the lightness of summer to the weight of winter. It is the transitional weather of fall that calls for the mixing fish and autumnal vegetables. Fish is a reminder of summer past, pumpkins squash to make sure we do not forget what is right around the corner.

As if proof that something larger is transpiring, the same blast of cold that triggered this brodetto also triggers one of the largest animal migrations on earth. In late October the Gulf Stream shifts and the colder waters of the North push South. When that happens the millions of fish that have summered on George's Banks -- one of the most prolific fishing grounds on earth during summer -- head south towards the warmer water of the Carolinas.

Along the way, they pass through one of the world's largest canyons, The Hudson Canyon. It cuts into the ocean floor in a way that makes the Grand Canyon seem diminutive. It runs past Boston and New York, right past Montauk point, and it is one of the greatest natural preserves on earth. Even though it cuts within 10 miles of 20-some odd million people, most do not even know it exists, nor do they wonder why every menu on the Northeast changes to account for this migration.

For some reason, the shift in the Gulf Stream triggers a change in me. When the temperature dips into the low 50s my body turns from thoughts of fresh tomatoes and summer squash, as if my entire being begins to take on the qualities of a hibernating bear. Even though I am not yet ready for root vegetables, I can feel that need coming.

It is a wonderful reminder that we are part animal, even while we search for the divine. It is a memento of the past that we are leaving, as well as a reminder of the future we are heading toward, leaving us somewhere between the two.

These thoughts, and all the wonderful flavors a meal like this brings, make me smile for the human experience we are all a part of. It is a reminder to cherish every flavor and every human sensation. For they, like the summer's bounty, will be gone soon enough. And when the longer winter happens for each of us, there will be an eternity before we are reborn in our own Spring, ready for the cycle of life to begin again.

For more writing on the Human Experience and our own Transcendence see The Conversation. www.jeffcannontheconversation.com.