Late September has many world celebration days that are interrelated. The 21st of September asks us to consider what we are grateful for. For Chef Becky, she is grateful for the larger community, when she was growing up, which helped her with her interests in art, cooking, and soccer. Let’s take a look at some inter-related gratitude-based days this fall!
Native American Day, Int’l Astronomy Day
The following day, Sept. 22, is both Native American Day and International Astronomy Day. Chef Becky is part-Blackfoot Cherokee. She also loves to stargaze and get pictures of particularly beautiful night skies, sunsets, and weather events. “In the catering business, you’re constantly watching the weather forecast, because the weather is as much a participant in special events as the people or the food or the decor,” she explains. Luckily in Hunterdon County we have less light pollution than other areas. A new word, noctalgia, has been coined to indicate a sense of loss people feel from too much man-made light obscuring the night sky.
A River Runs Through Califon
September 24th is World Rivers Day; lo and behold we have the Raritan River flowing through Hunterdon County. Alt-folk band Brightblack Morning Light, nature lovers from Alabama, pay tribute to rivers in their song “Star Blanket River Child.” Cold and usually fairly shallow, the Raritan River snakes through Califon and provides a space for fisherfolk and river enthusiasts. The river is stocked with trout, and it’s a stopover spot for migrating geese.
September 26th is Johnny Appleseed Day. Unlike some lionized figures in American lore, Johnny Appleseed was actually a real person: John Chapman, a nurseryman who introduced apples to the Midwest. The original seedbomber was also a conservationist. Seeds require, of course, good soil to take root in, illustrating the importance of soil management and health. There is even a seed vault deep in Norway in case of a cataclysmic world event so that we could reboot our ecosystem.
So what does this all add up to?
It adds up to the fact that, despite our high-tech world moving faster and faster and making leaps and bounds in space science, subatomic discovery, AI, medical science, etc, we are still higher primates who require clean water, good soil, healthy food, and a healthy ecosystem to thrive. As film director Makinov says: “We must sometimes put down our cell phones and remember we are made of blood.” Chef Becky hails from a part of Hunterdon County that saw unregulated toxic dumping prior to the EPA regulating landfills in 1979, so she knows firsthand about staying rooted in the earth, literally. There is even a movement in food to go back to ingredients pre-dating the colonization of the Americas. “I’ve been cooking in a from-scratch, high-quality ingredient, simple, straightforward, anti-inflammatory way for so long that it’s second nature,” the Chef iterates. “When you develop your palate you can detect chemical ingredients, artificiality, dyes, etc, right away. The body knows, but we’ve lost some of that earthiness from the 20th century onward.”
Spend some time at the end of September re-energizing your gratitude, and check out Bex, where we are grateful for community, the earth, and good eating!