When skies turn gray, leaves fall, and darkness lengthens, I make madeleines.

I don’t know why I make them. I’m not French. I’m not literary. I’m not a gourmet. I never ate them before I made them for myself. I’d see them in coffee shops, shrink-wrapped shells in plastic by the register, and they looked too … too corporate.

Then I saw a scene about them in an action movie, The Transporter, with Jason Statham. His woman made him madeleines, and grown men swooned at their scent.

So I got a tin, really a plaque, the oh-so-correct-but-oh-so-dental name for a madeleine pan, and a recipe from the shop that sold me the plaque–for the perfect amount of batter for that pan.

The first time I made them, I shared with neighbors. I no longer squander. I make them just for me and mine on velvety dark nights. By hand, no mixer needed. They are easy, so very easy, and oh so perfect–crispy, crunchy edges, pillow-soft centers rich with butter, fragrant with lemon. I like them pure and bare. Unlike Proust, I don’t dunk them in tea–just a glass of cold milk on the side.

I pick up every crumb from the plate and from my blouse as I sit on my balcony with the dwindling geraniums and basil, so vulnerable to frost. A far-off train whistles. A breeze touches my arms, rustles the last leaves on the trees.

Soon it will snow, and the balcony will be too cold. Then I will light a candle and eat my madeleines with Bach.