Casaubon's Book

Winding Up the Season

We missed frost earlier this week by a degree or two, just enough to clip the basil (basil is wussy that way ;-)), but tomorrow night should be definitive.   We’ve moved from steaming amber spice orchards (as the poet puts it) to “post-frost” quiet.  We brought the pumpkins in earlier this week, picked the last of the okra and tonight I’ll bring in the green tomatoes for pickling and/or ripening (depending on how far along they are).  The first fire in the cookstove will probably be tomorrow or the next day.  We picked the last raspberries on Sunday afternoon, and they became the last batch of raspberry jam and raspberry applesauce yesterday.    The last of the zinnias brighten the table.

This is not the end of the garden – carrots, lots of greens and parsnips will be there quite a while yet, and I don’t usually dig the last potatoes if the first frost is a light one, knowing they’ll be protected by soil (this time it will be quite a hard frost, so they are coming up).  but it represents a transition from early autumn, in which the best of summer overlaps with the first of autumn, where tomatoes and squash rub up against each other, to a shift towards the things of cold seasons – roots, greens and the last bits of summer’s lingering.

We’ll pick the quinces this afternoon, and start filling up the wood bin.  Firewood needs stacking (and some of it needs to be brought in) and the last hay delivery of the year will be pitched soon.  We’ll move the buck fence up to their winter quarters and set the barn up for colder weather.  I need to pick some of the seed crops drying on the vines and stalks, and likely will need to dry them further.

I admit, while I’m sorry to say goodbye to the things of summer, I look forward to this drawing in, the final rush to preserve and hold the warmth of the sun in jars.  The cold weather makes me long for the foods of that season as well – it is time for scalloped potatoes and vegetable soup, spicy kimchi and tofu stews and pumpkin pie.    It is time to assess and look back, as well as turn forward to look to the new season to come – a bit later on.

Hope the cool weather (whenever it comes for you) brings new joys!

Sharon