At the end of August after weeks without rain, the tallest of the sunflowers were canted at strange angles, some leaning into their shorter neighbors, some stalks breaking under the increasing weight
of the heavy seedheads.
The old raised bed at the south end of the garage is not an ideal place for sunflowers--not really great for any planting purpose as its width makes for difficulties in weeding and the overhang of the garage roof deflects much of any rainfall.
Still, the sunflowers, both the classic giants and the shorter many-branched hybrids have been a joyful splash of vivid colors.
A leaning forest of 'mini' sunflowers on August 27.
A week of rain finished the beauty of the sunflowers
and brought the remaining tall ones crashing.
Grandson Devin suggested we harvest them yesterday after school.
I had been tempted to leave some standing as they attract goldfinches, but 5 days of rain and mist was causing some of the seed heads to start going soggy.
We decided to deal with them before mold set in.
D. who is 6 feet 3 inches tall--without his boots--posed with this uprooted stalk to show
its grand height.
This is the classic giant sunflower with the distinctive striped grey and white seeds.
The seeds were saved by neighbors and given to me in the spring.
I stripped leaves and trimmed stalks while D. bunched and tied them with baler twine.
We quickly ran out of hooks on the porch and D. suggested we hang the remainder in the hay barn.
He loaded the stalks in his truck, drove to the barn and backed in with careful skill which would
impress his grandfather J.
I followed up the path, Willis, Sadie, and Sally scampering around my booted feet.
Pebbles paced along her fence, whinnying, hopeful that sunflower stalks would translate into horse treats.
D. scurried up the stairs into the loft, loaded down with stalks while I made a more cautious ascent.
[I enjoy being in a barn loft, but a well-remembered childhood nightmare always has me wondering if I might suddenly fling wide my arms and launch myself into space. Choir lofts have the same effect and being of small stature I was always assigned a place to sing right at the loft rail!]
Sadie and Sally busied themselves about the barn.
Willis, who has no fear of heights, supervised each bunch of sunflowers that was tied.
He walked along the cross-beam [swaggered, actually] jabbing a tweedy paw at the dangling twine as D. tied the sunflowers to the short stretch of protective railing.
Willis supervising from the beam.
Our task finished, D. drove home to supper.
I trudged back to the house through a fine mist, turned on lights in the kitchen and prodded at the apples I had left simmering in my three largest kettles.
I bought two bushels of apples on Monday at a local 'trade day.'
Neither Gina and I are happy with the varieties available here--these were a bushel each of
Gala and Golden Delicious.
Years of living in New England has apparently spoiled us for the familiar varieties grown in the orchards of the Champlain Valley--McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, Idared, Macoun---all of them crisp with a tart-sweet flavor and the red skins which lend a rosy color to applesauce.
By contrast, these apples have a soft texture, a bland taste and take forever to cook down to something resembling proper applesauce.
I stewed and stirred, put the resulting slurry through the foley mill, added sugar and ladeled into quart jars.
I finished my canning effort at 1 a.m. and resolutely washed kettles, bowls and colanders before tumbling into bed, leaving the jars to cool in the canner until morning.
I think I will not can applesauce again!
Much as we like to have a stash of home-processed fruit and vegs I have to conceed that canning
applesauce is very time-consuming.
Making up a big batch and putting the extra into plastic tubs for the freezer is a more sensible option.
My efforts produced 11 quarts for winter eating and a pint in the fridge for the weekend.
Willis and I are tired today.
I creaked out of bed at 7, wiped down the jars of applesauce and stored them on the basement shelves.
Canners dried out and put away.
Floors swept and sticky kitchen floor mopped.
Animals tended, laundry in the washer, dry leaves swept from the porch.
Suddenly it was 10 a.m. I hadn't had my one cup of morning coffee or breakfast--and felt over-whelmed with fatigue.
I showered, made myself sit quietly in the rocking chair with the mug of coffee and a bowl of cereal.
I indulged in wondering what on earth I have accomplished these past few weeks to be this exhausted!
Willis doesn't bother with such thoughts!
He found a basket which fit him nicely and took a long nap!
I rocked, sipped my coffee, took an emery board to my grubby nails and decided I would likely live to work another day!