Wednesday, October 6, 2021

6 October, 2021, Journal

Our driveway takes a wide bend here onto the lane that serves the three properties on Turkey Flatt Road.

Vegetables were in dwindling supply at the Casey County Produce Auction today, mostly offered in small lots.

Much of the floor was filled with ranks of mums, with more waiting on flatbed trailers parked alongside.

Colorful beauties, but I'm reluctant to spend for plants that have a short life.

 A bin of cushaws.

Warty pumpkins. I gather these are mainly for autumn decorations rather than having food value.

'Gremlin' gourds.

The August planting of green beans is providing us with the best harvest of the season.  Intermittent showers all week mean that picking is a bit problematic, mud splashed onto the bean bushes, bits of leaf and grass clinging onto the beans,
Much of yesterday afternoon was spent snipping ends, rinsing, cutting. 

8 pints went into the pressure canner, more saved out for fresh eating.

The dreaded Japanese beetles have run their course and there are a few fall roses to cherish.


Today's lineup of blooms spaced along the kitchen windowsill.
Rain began to pelt down at 5 p.m. accompanied by rattles of distant thunder.
It was nearly full dark by 6, raining hard, thunder and lightning moving closer.
The air has felt close and heavy all day.
Jim peeled apples for me this morning to make two pies--we long for the crisp apples of New England and upstate New York; the same varieties grown locally or shipped in from nearby states lack the tart/sweet flavors and keeping qualities with which we are familiar. 
Matt and Gina invited us to go with them to the produce auction, the next to the last of the season.
Matt had his eye on 3 buckets of everbearing strawberries, a carton of rhubarb and several small boxes of tomatoes. He snagged then at good prices and shared with us a bucket of strawberries and a box of the tomatoes. We declined the offer of rhubarb.
Jim treated us to a buffet meal at Bread of Life.

Thunder crashing with sudden vigor, startling Nellie-cat who is reclining on my desk; others of the feline crew seem agitated. 
I don't enjoy T-storms and intend to lower the blinds and curl up with a book.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Late September-Early October: Journal

Soybean fields on the river road.

Pumpkins and mums headed for the Casey County Produce Auction.

Seasonal displays outside Laverne's Market.

Warty pumpkins.

When did pale pumpkins join the ranks?

Observe the price tag on this giant!

Sunrise is later each morning.

The colors change quickly.

Edward on the small front patio enjoying the morning air.

I started this post on October 1st--photos and text whisked away, no copy saved. This has happened several times recently; I'm using my laptop while my desktop PC is away for service.  It may be that the laptop keyboard is extra sensitive--or that I unwittingly hit a key which deletes all.

Late September

Cool mornings, eastern skies streaked with rose, peach, mauve and lavender. By afternoon the temperatures climbed to the low 80's F.

The routine home making tasks were broken by errands on several days. I needed a 50 lb bag of bakers' unbleached flour, reason enough to make a run to the South Fork community. Most of the businesses and shops there are owned by families of the Amish or Mennonite persuasion, the pace is slower, each customer valued, service courteous.

The one caveat is the narrow winding roads shared by laden semis, bicycles, farm tractors, horse-drawn buggies, in addition to the usual traffic of cars and pickup trucks.

I met two semis--one loaded with logs, the other with pallets of lumber; in both cases there was room to pull to the side of the road and give them room. 

Back in the day if Jim wasn't along I would attempt to manage the 50 lb sack of flour by myself--heaving it into the shopping cart from a stacked shelf. Now the bulk flour, beans and rice are housed in a cooler, so a young Mennonite woman who was clerking called the owner from his office to pull out my chosen product: Seal of Minnesota Bakers' Flour. He assured me that he would be available to load it in my car, however he had retreated back to his office by that time.  I had noticed an elderly Amish gentleman also shopping--short and stooped, thin brown arms below the rolled up sleeves of a faded shirt. It was he who followed me out to the car, the sack of flour clasped to his middle. When I thanked him he smiled through the gaps in his teeth and commented wryly, 'I'm not quite what I used to be!'

Since I was in the neighborhood, so to speak, I decided to visit The Quilters' Trunk so see if they had restocked batik fabrics. There are two roads that go there--both steep and winding; the route I chose was longer but slightly less daunting in terms of sheer drops from the edge of the road into a ravine.

As I began the first twisting climb I caught up with an Amish buggy driven by a young woman with a child on the seat beside her.  Toiling behind was a sturdy older woman, walking to lighten the load for the horse. Rolling down the car window I asked if she would like a ride to the top of the hill. red-cheeked, smiling beneath her white head covering she declared, 'Thank you, but the exercise does me good.'  I eased the car along until I could carefully pass the buggy; the horse was leaning into the climb, head down, feet clopping a plodding rhythm. 

Pies made on Thursday, one for us, one to welcome the former buyers of our Amish farm back to a new place in the neighborhood; one to pop in the freezer in reserve for Matt and Gina who supplied the apples from last week's produce auction.

A last view of the sunflower row--later in the day they fell to Jim's mower.

Seed heads of Joe Pye weed.

Goldenrod growing in the brush and weeds along the north ravine.
The turning of a calendar page, cool misty mornings warming to dry afternoons in the 80's--evenings that draw in a little earlier each day, daylight disappearing in fiery afterglow.

The plants in the containers lining the patio are spent and drooping, ready to be discarded or trundled to the greenhouse in hopes of spring revival. 

The hummingbirds have departed, their numbers diminishing over the last week of September, until I wondered if those seen briefly at the feeders might be transients on their way south, rather than the summer residents. Today Jim took down the feeders; taking them apart for a final cleaning I discovered the base of one filled with drowned yellowjackets.

Shield-shaped 'stink bugs' crawl about on the porch screens, find their way into the house  trailed by the cats until I notice and escort the nasty things outside to be squashed,
Any day now the yearly invasion of Asian ladybugs will begin and the windows will need to remain closed against their onslaughts.

Leaves have begun to yellow and drift from the trees; some cornfields have been shorn, in others the stalks have turned sere and brown awaiting harvest. 
At times the weeks seem to pass slowly, but at the turn of the seasons each day brings changes--for those who take notice.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Autumnal Equinox

22 September, awake suddenly in the dark, the sound of rain pummeling on metal roof. An insistent wind swelled the curtains at my open west window, filling the room with the scent of wet grass.

After a moment I gathered my wits, heaved myself from my warm nest and trudged around the end of the bed, feeling the prickle of rain against my wrists as I lowered the window.

The cats immediately acknowledged that I was at least out of bed if not quite ready to meet the day, so no choice but to poke about for my slippers and make my way to the kitchen, kittens tumbling at my feet trying to catch the trailing ends of my bathrobe sash. 

Jim drove off through the rain having rented a mammoth bulldozer to clear some lots, Dawn was at work; Matt and Gina rounded up neighbors and drove to the Casey County Produce Auction a favorite destination this time of year,

I sat at my desk loading photos in a desultory manner. The phone rang, Matt requesting my presence for lunch at the Bread of Life Cafe.

Rain streamed in torrents against the car's windshield, the wipers slashing madly at full tilt. The parking lot when I arrived was slick with puddled rain. Howard had also been summoned; when he arrived we were ushered to a large family-sized table. Soup of the day was beef stew which I ordered with my favorite marinated chicken breast, grilled and served on a soft roll. Others opted for the buffet of southern style favorites along with the salad bar.

Howard chose to take this photo with Gina's phone rather than pose with the group.

I don't like photo ops, was caught in protest mode, while Howard kept his attention on his plate.

Betsy admiring Howard's vintage Dodge Ram.

Betsy and Gary were our neighbors in Gradyville during our first years in Kentucky, but weren't sure of the location of our new home. Gina and Matt led them there, where we found Jim had returned, shed soaked clothing for a hot shower and dry attire. The rain slacked off as we sat companionably talking, the kittens moving from one warm lap to another.

The line storm that arrived with the autumnal equinox gave way to blue skies.
I repeat in my mind the phrase 'autumnal equinox' always having enjoyed the roll of the syllables and the memories conjured.

The lane that leads from the main road past a cornfield awaiting harvest.

The pond on the opposite side of the lane. Goldenrod spills from the edge of the woods.

Gold finches picked out the sunflower seeds and have mysteriously departed leaving the gaunt stalks to rear against the September sky.

Blackberry lilies raised from last season's harvested seeds, settled into the new raised bed near the front door.

Ragged zinnias flattened by the equinoctial storm,

I'm familiar with many of the poems of Robert Frost, proudly claimed by my home state of Vermont. This is one I'd never read prior to finding it online. 
Those of a certain age may recall his attempt to read an essay or poem specially prepared for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
It was an outside venue, a cold January wind whipping the elderly poet's white hair, a relentless sun glaring off his spectacles.
The paper in his hand flapped and shook, unreadable.
With considerable aplomb he laid aside the 'Dedication' written for the event and spoke from memory, another of his poems, 'The Gift Outright.'
Frost often wrote of rural scenes referencing a countryman's knowledge of season and place.
We return to his poems to appreciate his underlying humor, pathos, quiet wit and his evocative gift of words.

 A Line-storm Song

Robert Frost - 1874-1963

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift, 

  The road is forlorn all day, 

Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, 

  And the hoof-prints vanish away. 

The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,

  Expend their bloom in vain. 

Come over the hills and far with me, 

  And be my love in the rain. 

The birds have less to say for themselves 

  In the wood-world’s torn despair

Than now these numberless years the elves, 

  Although they are no less there: 

All song of the woods is crushed like some 

  Wild, easily shattered rose. 

Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,

  Where the boughs rain when it blows. 

There is the gale to urge behind 

  And bruit our singing down, 

And the shallow waters aflutter with wind 

  From which to gather your gown.    

What matter if we go clear to the west, 

  And come not through dry-shod? 

For wilding brooch shall wet your breast 

  The rain-fresh goldenrod. 

Oh, never this whelming east wind swells   

  But it seems like the sea’s return 

To the ancient lands where it left the shells 

  Before the age of the fern; 

And it seems like the time when after doubt 

  Our love came back amain.      

Oh, come forth into the storm and rout 

  And be my love in the rain.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The End of Summer

Sunday 19 September, a color-washed sky at 7 a.m. 
Mauve, dusty lavender, shades of dove grey and palest blue, peach warming to coral.

It takes longer for the sun to appear, sliding low along the horizon. The grass is dew wet, silvered and chilly. If I walk out my boots leave a greener trail in passing. 
The promising sunrise gave way to banks of grey clouds, small flurries of rain. The air felt still and heavy with incipient moisture.
It rained most of Monday, intermittent showers requiring my car's windshield wipers at a slow speed on the way into town, some sharp deluges that I tried to wait out before resolutely pulling my red rain jacket around me and dashing through the wet.
At 9 p.m. the sky suddenly cleared and the harvest moon rose, a pale golden sphere that sent my shadow looming ahead of me when I made a last trip out to the trash pit with veg trimmings.

We have the hope of a few meals of green beans from this final planting of the summer. A late July sowing was destroyed by Mexican bean beetles before I got out with the shaker can of Sevin dust. A bad year for bean beetles!

Beyond the planned row of beans, volunteers have sprung up since Jim cleared and tilled that area. These are the progeny of the ill-fated pole beans which tangled through their trellis and became infested with chiggers/spider mites--or whatever those horrid pests should be called. The season won't extend for them to blossom and bear.
Myriad clumps of cucumbers have likewise sprouted in their cleared area, brought on by this month's frequent small rains.

In addition to our usual planting of butternut squash which bore well, I bought seed of a bush variety. 
The squash are bell-shaped rather then the usual elongated shape.

Weary of watering the plants in the greenhouse by hand I've ranged them outside where I can water them with the nearby hose if rain doesn't give them enough. These are the remainder of my seed-grown plants designated for the extension of the west garden--a project derailed last spring.
I'm not quite resigned to giving these up, but a way to accomplish that garden hasn't presented.

Nasturtiums are willing to give me at least two flowerings per summer. I drag this large pot into the greenhouse when winter threatens and it sits there until late spring warmth encourages the seeds fallen from the previous summer's blooms to germinate. I allow a number of the blossoms to set seed which with a bit of judicious encouragement sends up fresh plants. The big planter was tucked out of the way in the corner where the greenhouse abuts the shop.

A bit of yellow to lighten a sunless day.

One tendril of nasturtium poked its way through the gap between the two walls, climbed for a bit then sprawled across the greenhouse floor.

This smaller pot of nasturtiums rested in the greenhouse until it again flourished and has come out to grace the front entry until frost.

The tangle of the unfinished west garden troubles my peace of mind each time I walk past. Last season it was lovely, thyme and lavender flourishing along the edge of the raised bed and spilling over the stone path. While the herbs came through the winter their situation didn't suit, and I've had to watch the wiry twigs blacken and rot. In part I'm blaming the butterfly bush; designated as 'dwarf' if has sprawled and rambled spilling over the edge of the raised bed creating too heavy shade for the sun-loving plants below.

A last stalk of bloom on coneflower 'twister.'

Dr. Ruppel making a valiant effort.

Another view of the buddleia in its unrestrained sprawl.

Duchess of Edinburgh giving me a few last glowing blooms.

A few roses after the Japanese beetles have retired until another summer.
They last for a day or two then the petals fall in soft heaps on the windowsill.
Autumn is my favorite of the seasons. As the weather cools and days are crisp I'll tackle such garden cleanup as I can manage--pruning, tidying, while watching the turning colors of leaves, listening for the wild calls of Canadian geese and sandhill cranes as they fly overhead on their way to winter grounds.
'To everything a season.'