Living In Two Seasons

IMG_1539Winter on the farmlet is peaceful.  We do less, generally, and relax more.  But in the months leading up to winter, there’s a lot to do, so it’s best to start early and space everything out.  In this place, we live in two seasons simultaneously,

In the garden,  the gorgeous – and enormous – stalks of Mexican Torch Sunflowers continue to bloom.  These were a surprise, the only variety of sunflower that took root in the garden, out of the several types I planted.  While they have dwarfed the fig tree they grow around, it seems to be alright under there.  Butterflies seem to love them, so they will make a reappearance next year, although maybe next time I’ll give the fig some space.

I’ve got a few more weeks of tomatoes, and my Tomatillos are just starting to get ripe, so I have a bit more canning to do, but that too, is winding down.  The rest of the pumpkins are almost ready too, and I’ll probably see a few more peppers as well.  By around October 15th, I’ll be pulling out plants and prepping for next year.  I love to garden, but I equally love putting the garden to bed for the season, just as much a pleasurable part of the rhythm of the year here as planting and harvesting.  There’s a satisfaction in getting things ready for the next round.

This year that means we need to cut back and prune the overgrown raspberries, which have started to take over more than their share of the yard.  I never did get to dividing irises and peonies, so that will have to be done next year.  All over, it’s time to prune back the summer growth.

The chimney sweeps were here latst week, and a half a cord of seasoned firewood will arrive on Friday.  The last chore in winter heating is furnace burner cleaning before we flick it on for the season.  We can only supplement our heat with the wood stove, but it keeps the living room nice and cozy.

The bunnies will – when it gets good and cold, get a tarp over their hutch and run.  I’ve tried a few options for insulation for them over the years, and that seems to be the simplest to keep them safe from wind and weather.  We bring them in for a night or two if the weather gets dangerously cold, but generally they stay where they are.

We’ll keep cleaning the chicken coop as long as we can into the winter, and they will get a heat lamp and an electric waterer that keeps everything from freezing.  Eventually though, we have to let it be until spring, other than surface cleans.  Extra pine shavings laid down every few weeks help, but it gets hard to clean in the coldest weather.

I will also fill the freezer so that we don’t have to go out when the weather is bad.  I’ve got a few months to do it.  It’s interesting, always living in the now and 3 months ahead, but it’s the only way I ever want to be.  When I’m blanching and freezing kale in June, or canning tomatoes in August, it’s an investment in the future.   I’m ready for chilly nights, and when they come, I’ll be daydreaming about the next garden….

 

 

 

Preparing for Autumn

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The weather turned chilly at the end of last month, and the nights have stayed that way.  Slowly the trees are turning from green to orange and red.  The smallish people have started to adjust to school, the fall raspberries are ripening, and hoodies are becoming standard morning attire.

Fall is most definitely coming.  I see it in the way the vines and tomato plants are dying down, as I rush to harvest the last of the Sungold tomatoes, our favorites.  The San Marzano tomatoes are ripening as well, and they are the best for sauce.  Tickets for our fair are on sale, and extra blankets are back in use.

Now that the wedding is over, Eli and I have turned our attention to preparing for the cold weather.  The chimney sweeps come next week to make sure the wood stove is clean and safe, and wood needs to be ordered.  Tomatoes still need to be canned, the rest of the basil needs to be turned into Pesto and frozen, and there’s Tomatillos to turn into Salsa Verde, so this weekend, in and around our usual things, is a canning weekend.  I’ve got the first 2 batches done, and there’s more to come.

We have 4 pumpkins ripening in the garden,  plus one white one that has already taken up residence on the porch.  4 more is enough for Halloween and some roasted pumpkin dishes besides, although we’ll probably let the kids do the pumkin patch thing – the rule for us is that you can pick a pumpkin as big as you can carry.  One of ours will hopefully be put aside for my favorite Christmas side dish, the wildly indulgent Dorie Greenspan recipe for Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good.

Over the next few weeks, air conditioners need to be pulled out of windows, and we need to finally finish the garden fence and gate before we tuck the garden in for the winter.  All this work will allow us to settle into the holidays and then winter, and relax.

Which is good because we’re ready for the pace of things to slow down a bit.  This year has been a busy one, full of projects and changes, and when we take stock, Eli and I are both proud of what we’ve accomplished and also just, well, really tired.

Tonight is a repeat performance of Chicken Souvlaki Bowls – it’s grey, rainy and chilly out, so we’ll enjoy sitting inside, with some of the last of the season’s sunflowers to keep us company.  Summer has a few days yet, and we are going to relish them all, but look forward to more chilly nights and warm days to come.

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Little Wedding on the Fairy Hill

Watching the Guests Arrive – Photo by E.Capozzi

It happens like that.  The things that are far away all of a sudden arrive.  The days go from hot to cool.  School buses start to make an appearance.  And for us, the day we had been planning for since the winter – the wedding.

I write this a just over a week later, on a quiet Sunday morning.  Everyone is asleep except me, and we’re finally starting to truly rest.

Everyone started arriving Thursday, and slowly the list of things on my to-do list started to get checked off, and new ones stopped being added.  The weather was due to be perfect.  And it was.  The sunflowers were in bloom everywhere and we covered our house and the wedding venue with them.  

I drove to the airport to pick up my best friend and Matron of Honor, Liz, and her husband Joe, and got a much-needed hug from both of them.  The two of them are part of my life’s bedrock, having seen me through some of the hardest things, and that they were with me for one of the happiest things seems only fitting.  They immediately dove in to help, and even gave us space for a quiet moment a few hours before the ceremony.

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Saying Hello Before it All Begins – Photo by J. Capozzi

Falling in love again in your 40s is a supreme act of faith.  Making a second-time-around promise in front of 75 people is a public act of affirmation.   For us, this was the thing that was always supposed to be, and our family and friends showed up to support.  Our neighbor Jay played and sang the kids and I down the aisle, and Melissa, his wife and one of my closest friends, officiated.  My sister made the beautiful cakes, flavors like vanilla with blackberry lavender filling.  Joe and Eli put it all together.  Our family surrounded us, and friends we haven’t seen in years, plus those we see all the time.

It was beautiful.  We started all in a rush because Statler, our flower chicken, decided to try to escape her basket, and chicken-chasing wasn’t built into the schedule (flower chickens being an as-yet insufficiently tapped wedding trend) to walk down the aisle.

“It’s Time” Candice said.

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Walking Down the Aisle – Photo by S. Astyk

On December 21, 2016 I started over at Sithean.  On August 30, 2019 I started all over yet again, but this time it’s we, not me.  I can’t wait to see what’s next…..

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Hello at the Reception – Photo by J. Capozzi