It left a lasting impression when I walked up the stone steps and into the cavernous dark beauty of the century old St. Louis Public Library years ago. The lighting was very poor but you knew you were surrounded by something special. Most impactful was the smell, the old, old book smell. It was enveloping, and comforting. The author I was there to see, Linda Barry, was enthralled by it as well and spoke endearingly of it that night.

This past weekend I went to hear renowned author Kate DiCamillo speak in that recently refurbished grande dame of libraries. The smell was gone but the interior shone bright with greatness. The mosaics, stained glass, and stunning ceilings have been reborn. They do not make them like this anymore. Just a week earlier I went to see children's book author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen at a new library in a suburban outpost. This youthful duo's hip talent and playfulness played well in the slick modern setting. Libraries are a gift that just keep giving.

The autumn leaves have peaked. A front moves in tonight, and with the ensuing storms, the temperature and remaining leaves will fall. Times change, buildings change and we must look for the beauty in every season.


This summer I joined a CSA. With Autumn upon us it is nearing its end and I will miss it. The acronym stands for Community-Supported Agriculture and it is a system in which farmers sell directly to local consumers.   Every week participants pick up their produce from a designated pick-up point. In addition to fruits and vegetables, the CSA I joined provides house-made goods from the restaurant that is the point of retrieval.  These items have included giardiniera, jams, and mustard.

I have no say in the kinds of produce offered each week. Every Tuesday has been a grab bag of treasures. As a result I have had to learn a thing or two in the kitchen. Eggplant and butternut squash have become less foreboding.  I have blanched and frozen vegetables for winter soups and hit the internet for recipes--a lot.  Monk beans were a mystery to me, but no more.  Overall it has been an enlightening and tasty experience.  I recommend checking to see if a CSA is available in your area.

TIP: Did you know there are male and female eggplants?  A female eggplant has more seeds (that tend to be bitter) so if you would prefer to choose a male the illustration above shows how to tell the difference. Once you have your eggplant, a simple way to prepare it is to punch holes into it with a fork then bake for a little over an hour in the oven until tender.  When it cools, slice it open and scoop out the soft flesh.  It can be used in pasta sauces or even to top a pizza. Buon appetito!