I've ridden my horse, Blue, at least five times in the last week. And every time, he's made it clear that fall is here.
How does he tell you, you ask?
My dead-headed, lazy-bones, dependable horse is suddenly looking for spooks everywhere. He's developed a fear of school buses. Or I'll be riding along in the river bottoms and Blue will suddenly jump sideways, and I don't see a thing that could have made him jump.
All the horses out in the pasture are likely to take off running and bucking for no apparent reason.
Because that's how horses act in the fall.
No matter what the calender says, autumn officially started about a week ago. Today, the temperature actually agrees with the horses' ideas. Soup and stew weather.
So I made hamburger stew.
I was working in the packing house at the apple orchard, years ago, alongside a woman named Ruth-Ann. She mentioned, in her southern-drawl manner, that she'd made hamburger stew for supper the previous evening, and I said, "What? You had what?"
"Hamburger stew; haven't you ever made that?"
I told her I hadn't, so she brought some to work in a thermos the next day.
It's a tasty way to stretch a pound of hamburger so it'll feed a family, and I've been making it ever since.
She told me the ingredients she used, and I can almost recall the conversation verbatim: "You brown some hamburger and onions. Add water and put in your carrots. Let them cook awhile, then add the potatoes and barley." (I'd never used barley for anything, up to then). "Not too much barley, or it'll give the stew a sorta slickish feel."
I've found I can add all the barley I want with no problem, though.
"Then you add some chopped cabbage," she went on. "I can't use too much, because the kids don't like cabbage."
"Do you put tomatoes in it?"
Well, over the years I've added a little cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic; and I've even used tomatoes on occasion. I did today, since I have tomatoes in the garden going to waste; why not take advantage of free vitamins? I'm also making use of potatoes and onions that my green-thumb husband raised this yearin his first attempt at a garden. I got in the habit, a long time ago, of putting the skinned tomatoes through the food processor, because there are so many young people who think it's horrid if they find a chunk of tomato in their stew or chili.
In order to use the rest of my thawed hamburger, and also to make utilize more free tomatoes and onions before they all spoil, I also made chili.
I sure wish it was lunch-time.