Early Autumn

Oct 2 008

(By John Denver)

“Reflections on the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time
The falling leaves are whispering winter’s on it’s way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday

It seems a shame to see September swallowed by the winter
And more than that it’s oh so sad to see the summer end
And though the changing colors are a lovely thing to see
If it were mine to make the change i’d let it be

But I don’t remember hearing anybody asking me”

Oct 2 005

I’ve always loved the group of songs by John Denver called “Season Suite”. These are the lyrics for the “Fall” section of it. They kept going through my mind today as I pulled up the plants, weeds and debris in the garden, getting it ready for the winter.

I stopped to toss the ball for Fritz and to admire the changing leaves around me. What a pretty time of year it is. One of my favorites. The cooler temperatures, the bright colors of leaves on the trees and the start of yet another part of life. Many people believe that spring and summer are the only beginnings. I think that this is not actually true. Although many things go to sleep in the winter, there is also a rebirth that occurs during this time as well.

I live across the street from a lake. In the summer it is so alive. I can hear the children laughing and playing and splashing in the water below. The fishermen in their dingies, the water skiers being pulled along at great speeds by fast paced motorboats, trees in full bloom, flowers and birds, all crowding the scene.

In the fall, the fishermen are out in the morning, skimming the lake in their small boats, silently trying for that last elusive fish before the cold winds blow. The leaves twinkle, red, gold, orange and brown, reflected in the still morning waters of the lake. Birds flying overhead, on their journey south, squawk their good byes! A slower paced life, but still alive, for sure.

Winter comes, freezing the lake solid. In what seems like moments, the lake becomes a part of the earth. Snowmobiles arrive zipping across the landscape, and then the “Bob Houses” arrive. For those of you who do not know what a “Bob House” is, it is a small wooden shack where the hearty winter fishermen can sit while waiting for that one big fish that escaped the summer fishing lines, bites at their winter snares. Some of the houses are very simple, others are wild with bars, beds or even a fireplace. Life on the lake in the winter. It is cold, but alive, nonetheless.

Eventually spring comes to the lake and each year we wait and watch for ice out. That magical day when the ice breaks up and once again the flow of water returns. It’s still too cold for fishing, for swimming or even for the birds, but once again I am struck by how alive the lake is, as the water rocks back and forth to shore.

In fact, the lake is always alive, winter, spring, summer or fall. In the warmth of the summer or the coldest part of the winter.

What a wonder to behold!

Jelly, Applesauce and Bulbs

Last week I pressed grapes and ended up with way too much juice. Some has been frozen for enjoyment over the winter, and today we made 22 half pints of jelly! This is the best batch we have had in years, too. Perhaps this is due to the ripeness of the grapes. Perhaps it is the happiness that the cook felt as she stirred the pot. Whatever it was, the end product is fabulous!

We also made applesauce on Sunday. We sliced up so many apples and cooked them down to a mere 4 pint size freezer bags! So guess what we need to do some more of? There is just nothing like homemade applesauce, though, so it is worth the time.

The last work I will do outside this year will be to strip my garden and pull out every last weed, and plant. Then I want to fertilize it. Once this is complete, I will plant my bulbs for next year around the yard. I have all the bulbs, I just need to set aside a nice fall day to get this completed.

It has occurred to me that you may all be getting the wrong idea about me. It may seem that I am a real “mother earth” type, who cans all their food and cooks from dawn ’til dusk. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, this is the first year I have canned to this extent. Or had such a large garden.

I’m really a potato chip and brownie loving hot chocolate drinker who craves McDonald’s fries and a Big and Tasty Burger far too often.

But there is something to be said about the call of nature this year. It’s been a loud call, and with time, land and the sun, who am I to ignore the chance?

Maybe I’m going to become the next Mrs. Greenthumbs!

Itch, Itch, Itch!!!

When I am an old woman, I will fence in my yard so that my dogs can run free without me having to worry about…Poison Ivy!
Yes, it’s July, and every July this happens. I wake up one morning and there it is, on my arms, where my dog has cuddled up close to me in the night, a bumpy itchy patch of Poison Ivy!
I didn’t have this problem, of course, when I lived in Florida. Then it was just heat rash that last year round! I bought Gold Bond Powder by the case! That, and insect repellent!
But when we moved back home to New Hampshire, I knew I was in trouble because of the large wild field behind my house. Oh, the wild flowers are beautiful, the butterflies a thing to behold, but the Poison Ivy leaves me itching from now until September.

The field, behind our netted cherry tree.

I’ve spoken to Hubby about fencing in the yard. Our yard is very large and if we did this the dogs would still have a large area to run without them running through the field and bringing home these horrible oils to rub all over me in the night. We also wouldn’t have to think about the deer, or in the future, the puppies getting loose.
Hubby is a naturalist. He likes wide open spaces and he loves to watch the dogs running through the field. He doesn’t get Poison Ivy the way I do.
I do love the open fields, just not in July!
Time for the brown soap and calamine lotion!
itch, itch,itch!!!!!

Twofer Tuesday

I had a perfectly good post written for today, but then life happened. So lucky you will get two posts today. Read them both and then vote for your favorite.

The first story is titled, “Outwitting The Birds“.

This past weekend Hubby and I worked together to “net” our cherry tree. Now that the cherries are starting to turn a little pink, the birds can see them. We noticed them coming from far and wide to sample the delicious sweet cherries.
However, Hubby would have none of that. A few weeks ago he sent away for a large net to put over and around the tree. Of course, due to the fact that his knees are still not up to par, I was the one who went up the ladder and did all the fitting of the netting. Don’t get me wrong, Hubby was there on the ground, helping me, but I was the one up on the ladder doing a job that spelled disaster for me.
You see, I’m not what one would call graceful. In fact I can be walking across a bare floor and trip on nothing at all! So I was quite nervous to be up on this ladder with a feeling that my life could end at any moment. I also have a fear of heights. Granted this was not too high, but I am even less graceful when I am off the ground, even if it is only by a few feet.
At one point I started to fall and grabbed onto the ladder. It was then that I said to Hubby that he should just stand in back of me so I can feel him there. That would surely make me brave!
The netting was finally in place, the seams sealed up and all the tools put away. Whew, I cheated death, yet again.

Last night our neighbor came down bringing strawberries for us! (YUM!) We sat on the patio talking and we noticed a pair of Baltimore Orioles flying around the cherry tree. We watched those birds flying around and around, trying to figure out a way to get to our cherries! Finally one was very tired and landed on the netting on the very top of the tree and just sat there. I grabbed my camera and snapped.
Right now I am feeling a bit giddy. It appears that Hubby and I are winning this battle for the cherries.
Now all I need to do is start looking for cherry recipes.
It’s going to be a big crop!

The second story is titled, “Mrs. Noah”

“God, it’s me, Mrs. Noah. Remember me? Right now my Hubby, Noah is laid up with his newly replaced knees. I’m waiting on him hand and foot, taking care of the animals. You remember the animals, God? The ones you told us to get?
Okay, Lord, today you sent us more rain. I wasn’t really happy about that. When I took the little ship out to get the mail, I noticed the path to the Ark was pretty rutted. Seeing as Hubby is still not doing well, I went out this morning and worked for over an hour shoveling mud and digging trenches. I’m not used to this kind of work, but I figured that I had best do it before the path washed away.
I came in after, sweating, (you know my feelings about that) and after taking my second shower of the day made Hubby his lunch. Then, because I was so tired I even got into my pajamas. I intended to just relax and not do another thing today.
God. How come you don’t like me? While I was sitting here trying to relax the rain started coming down in sheets. More rain than I’ve seen in a long time. 3 1/2 inches in less than an hour! Hubby was really impressed. I was simply horrified!

After feeding Hubby his dinner, I headed back up the path. I was shocked to find the drive nearly washed away. I shoveled and raked and raked and shoveled until my back and arms ached and I felt nearly drunk with exhaustion. All of this requiring a third shower.

So I’m asking again God, what do you have against me? I’m a good woman, I feed my Hubby, I feed my animals. I even planted a garden. Do you really need to help me water it so much?
I’ve got a little something to ask you. Could you please just cut the rain? I know you’re trying to improve on that 40 days and 40 nights deal, but come on, enough is enough.
A woman’s got to rest!”

Garden Progress

I went out to check my garden today and found that my summer squash and zucchini plants were sprouting their first flowers! Woo-hoo!!!

My tomatoes are also doing well. Click on the images to see them larger. Then you can see all my little baby tomatoes! Sadly, my pea plants do not like heavy rains and they are not doing as well as I would like them to.

95 Degrees & Rising

It’s already 95 degrees here in the cold northern corner of the US. 95 ice melting, brow moistening, degrees! How did this happen? Why last week we were barely 60 degrees and in the process of getting a foot of rain! So how did we go from early spring to late summer in the course of a couple of days?
Hubby says I shouldn’t complain, it’s not like I melt, right? Wrong! One of the things I hate most in life is to sweat. In fact I think I would probably be a great athlete if only I didn’t have to sweat to get there.
Hubby says he finds me sweating a real turn on. Yeah, right. Like I believe that one. Let’s just say he will do or say anything to get me out and exercising.
Perhaps that’s why I like to snow ski. In the middle of winter there is very little chance of sweating too much. At least if you dress correctly, and over the years I seem to have this mostly mastered.
I know I am not alone in my abhorrence of sweating.
I was in a store one day in Florida. I was shopping for some summer clothes and I saw a man hopelessly trying to pick out a gift for his wife. After a time he came over to me and asked me what size I wore, as his wife looked to be about the same size and he was going to buy her an outfit. I told him and he held up the outfit for me to judge.
“Oh that’s nice”, I said “she won’t sweat too much with the short sleeves”.
The man looked very confused by my words and then very quietly he said “My wife don’t sweat, she glistens”.
Oh to be married to a man who only wants me to glisten! Now that would be nice!

Good-Bye, Baby Peaches

Today I found myself doing something that was really hard for me. It goes against everything I believe in and all I have been raised with.
I thinned peaches on our peach tree.
What this means is that I went outside and climbed up on a ladder, and took off the little baby peaches. Not all of them, you understand, but we tried to thin them down to 1 peach for every six inches of branch.
Hubby did not thin well enough last year, frankly we didn’t know that we needed to be so aggressive, and we suffered the “Great Peach Disaster”.
We nearly wept when we saw the tree. One minute is was beautiful and full of fruit, and a few hours later, kaput!
In any case, back to today. Hubby had been sitting in the yard thinning the peaches on the lower half of the tree. When I poked my head out the door to see how he was doing, he had me!
He called me out, had me get a step ladder and the next thing I knew I was plucking peaches for the next hour or so.
It wasn’t necessarily bad work, but it was sad. I saw all those little baby peaches being tossed to the ground, so that the tree would have a good harvest, not one which would break it apart.

The little baby peaches on the ground.

Hubby checked my work several times and told me I wasn’t being aggressive enough. Then he claimed I wasn’t saving the “big” peaches.
I gave him a glaring look that let him know that people who beg for help, can’t be so choosey!
We’ve left the tree for now, but I think we will have to go through and thin one more time before our August harvest.

The thinned tree branches.

Signs Of Life

It has stopped raining long enough for me to tend to the trees and the plants. Everything is thriving with all the rain, but of course since it is not currently raining, this meant I was out spraying the fruit trees once again. Please pray that we don’t have a lot more rain because if we do, I wll end up going out and having to do the spraying all over again! Oh woe is me!
Actually, there is a great sense of accomplishment when you are out checking the fruit and the plants and you see that your sprays have kept the bugs and fungi off your fruit and they are growing beautifully. Yes, MY peaches, and MY apples etc. all looked very good today!
Time for some Advil.

Rain measured in the last 24 hours!

Gala Apples & Peaches

Plums & Concord Grapes

Pears & Tomatoes


I’m Getting Sloshed

I’m starting to think that my new occupation should be “Ark Builder”! It seems that all it does is rain! Now this is just great for my garden. All my squash, zucchini and cucumber plants are growing like crazy. The peas, it seems, do not enjoy the heavy rain and would like just a smidgen of sunshine!

It’s not that I don’t enjoy an occasional rain shower. There is nothing like it after a dry spell, but these continuous, cold raw days where is rains, no pours, is getting all too familiar and very old!
Hubby sent me out to see how much rain had fallen in the last 24 hours. Yes, it was still raining, and yes I was unhappy about having to go out in it.
I got my rain coat on and traipsed up the hill to the rain gauge. One and one half inches of the liquid stuff!
I sloshed my way back down the hill and into the house. Feet soaked and feeling none too happy. Hubby smiled and then his next words froze me in my tracks.
“If it rains much more, you’ll have to spray again.”
Then he hobbled off on his crutches to the sick room to sit with his blanket and watch another rerun of “Law and Order”.
I stood there with my mouth hanging open and with tears in my eyes. My poor aching body hasn’t recovered from the last spraying.
Oh well, when we finally get some fruit, it’ll taste awfully good.