Saturday, November 4, 2017

Days of Sunshine, Days of Rain

Golden days and chilly nights ushered out the last full week of October.
I spent as much time outside as possible once the sun crept over the eastward ridge, burning off the dew and warming the air. 
It was cool enough to warrant a fire first thing in the morning and again in the evening.

As I look out the kitchen window above the sink, each day a bit more sky has become visible as the leaves drift down to litter the track that follows the narrow ravine.

Frost warnings were posted for our area, and for several mornings I came downstairs a bit after 6 to find that the red needle on the thermometer stood at 30 degrees F--a mere 2 notches below freezing.  Strangely, we hadn't yet been touched by frost here on the hill, although our garden at the bottom of the lane showed a few traces of limp and shriveled leaves.
Trees and buildings stood out sharply against the burning blue of the sky.  White cloud puffs drifted gently above  burnished hills and fields of corn and soybeans bleached dry and awaiting harvest.

We spent the sunny afternoon of October 22nd harvesting our sweet potato crop.

My job was to crawl along the rows with a pair of utility shears, lopping off the thickly tangled vines so that Jim could determine where to carefully dig into each hill.

Jim heaped the potatoes into large plastic trays which he stacked in the tractor's bucket to be trundled up the lane.

The young goats watched us from their nearby pasture.
As we finished work in the garden the afternoon grew colder.
I hurried to bring in the flowering plants which summer on the porch, trimming leggy begonias and geraniums, finding places for a few on the pantry shelf in front of the window, lining others on old tables where they can catch pale winter light through the basement windows.
Jim came to the rescue as I was staggering in with my Norfolk Island Pine in its heavy pot; it spends each winter in the cool 'sun room.'

We woke next morning to find that a killing frost had altered the landscape.
Frosted mornings, biting wind, scudding grey clouds replaced blue skies and golden sunshine.

The gardens took on a bleak and wasted look, only the late planting of kale and broccoli are still crisp and green.

Lavender sprawls over the side porch steps, the low creeping foliage of spice pinks holds its grey green color, as yet unchallenged by the frost, but the brilliant heads of the self-seeded cockscomb are shriveled and drooping.

J's nephew and family arrived from Wyoming to work on land they own at the other end of the county. Seemingly they brought with them fitful, often heavy rain which has hampered their intentions to install a small stove in their camp, improve the rough road into the property.
Jim has roared back and forth hauling over tractors and bush hog.

I've had the delightful company of our nephew's wife and little daughter; I offered to prepare the main dish for a hot meal each day--the sort of food I cooked decades ago on the farm when we had extra mouths to feed. While the men pitted themselves and their machinery against rain and mud, my kitchen was warm and fragrant with lentil soup, onions and green peppers frying in olive oil, ready to be mixed with home-canned tomatoes, rice, a sprinkling of herbs.  
A huge pot of chili mac simmered on the back of the wood stove nearly all of one day; 
I made bread for the sandwiches that went to the work site, bread for morning toast, bread to dip into the curried veg and barley soup which made itself in the slow cooker while we made a leisurely round of the Amish/Mennonite shops at the South Fork community.

I brought home a stainless steel food mill to replace an ancient one.
I was up early next morning to stew up apples and put them through my shiny new unit, pleased with the big bowl of warm applesauce to add to our breakfast.

Bread to share with family and neighbors.
[The divided loaves are what I make when there are only two of us at home.  The halves can be frozen and brought out as needed so that a whole loaf doesn't go stale.]

It has been a busy several weeks. As I work thoughts and phrases chase through my mind, wanting expression, if only to create a record of my days.
Yet, when I sit at my desk, my brain is fuzzed with tiredness, my eyes droop as I read, comments aren't posted, nor words typed to join the photos languishing in several drafts. 
[I may yet edit those posts although the contents will hardly be 'breaking news.']

Today has been cloudy, mild and damp, afternoon melding seamlessly with early darkness. 
It is time to set the clocks back an hour [why must we attempt to meddle!] It is time to experience again this season of in between--the weeks that here in Kentucky are no longer brilliant autumn, not yet winter. 


  1. Your nephew and his family are so lucky to have you to provide such longingly prepared meals and other tasks. It's been twenty years since I've experienced a real winter. I fondly remember the first frost of the season, the first snow fall and many months later the first spring greenery. It's looks lovely where you live. Here in southern California we have two temperatures; warm or hot! Luckily, we've had a week of glorious clouds and moderate temps. Enjoy your week. Pat

    1. Pat; Long weeks of summer weather--heat and humidity--sap my energy. We get through our summers by doing outdoor work early in the morning, then escaping inside with the A/C.
      I've enjoyed the opportunity this week to prepare 'comfort food' in quantity, while our niece has provided salads and fresh fruit.

  2. What an enjoyable read!! It is a pleasure reading about your life and what you are doing. All of that cooking and baking is making me hungry.

    Your frosted landscape looks cold.

    Happy, cozy autumn ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Our several 'frosted' mornings were a treat--a chance to enjoy the wood fire before it becomes a real necessity which keeps us close to home for the winter months. Baking for a crowd is far more satisfying than 'cooking for two.' Leftovers don't have time to languish!

  3. Loved everything in the post, but mostly the pictures of those loaves of bread.

    1. Lillian; I learned to make bread the year before I was married and I've been making it weekly ever since. I don't use a bread machine--I enjoy the old-fashioned process.

  4. It all looks delish! Why don't you live closer to me so I could impose on you? I guess I should just get busy myself.... darn. Glad I found your blog, it looks like you may live in heaven, or at least near by.

    1. Kim; We've always been 'country people' so Kentucky suits us as a retirement location. Sadly, this beautiful area is not free of the drug culture and the ills which go with it, but that life style seems to have invaded even very rural places.
      That aside, we are happy with the place we now call 'home.'

  5. I think you have a much harder winter than we do, we're still having days in the 80's. Having something simmering on the stove is heaven. Your bread looks so good.

    1. Janet; I think south-central Kentucky is at least one 'zone' cooler than your location. Each season here has been different than the one before--two winters that brought us heavy snow and cold temps, although it wasn't a lingering effect.
      I love 'one pot' meals that can simmer slowly--Jim prefers 'meat, potato, veg' in distinct piles on his plate. This has been my week of happy cooking!

  6. I love following along on your days - there is such a serenity and calmness to everything you share. It's always so nice to have house-guests to pamper and you are certainly doing that well. They must have been reluctant to leave after home-made breads, applesauce and chili. The changing of the seasons is wonderfully conveyed with your beautiful words and photos. x Karen

  7. Karen; Serenity and calmness are something I'm always striving to create, both within myself and in my surroundings. So many upsets and real sorrows that none of us can change, but I think a welcoming home eases life's challenges.
    The photos you share of your own home and projects inspire me.

  8. Before going to bed I treated myself to a read of your lovely and delicious sounding post. In the spring a son and daughter were having a week-long yard sale prior to moving from their farm, and I cooked meals for them each day, - it was wonderful to be in a kitchen redolent with the inviting smells of family dinners.

  9. What a lovely post. There are some lovely-sounding recipes there (especially the curried veg and barley soup). It's ages since I made bread by hand, preferring to just bung it in the Panasonic and come back when it goes ping!

    We've just had our first frost and a few weeks of cold weather are arriving after a storm this weekend. Deep joy!