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On the Eve of October


Confused and out of step is how I’d describe myself over the last several weeks. The extended forecast, which takes us to October 14th, offers nothing below 40 degrees for our overnight low. This places us at more than a month past our first average frost date. Myself and those around me do not feel in sync with our normal rhythm of the season. I wonder how early hunting will be this year, as it is typical for deer to not be on the move in warmer weather. They bed down and ride it out which sounds familiar to my own habits. Bow season is always warmer than rifle, but even more so this year. There is just so little chill in the air. 

A neighbor stopped by to assist Adam in designing the roof for the covered porch we are building. He is a retired master carpenter, a one time creator of the most beautiful timber frame homes and barns. Now he enjoys spending days on the farm with the pigs, cattle, chickens, gardens, and hemp fields. We are grateful for his willingness to lend his expertise; we have built many small structures in the past, but nothing that we felt needed to look just right.

A while back I noticed his wife’s baskets for sale at our local Agway, and being the owner of a few myself, I was pleased to see such a nice selection of goods offered right there beside the bird seed. Erik shared that he’d built many birdhouses for the store’s shelves during the holidays last year; with supply chains interrupted and bare inventory, he was happy to contribute. And truly, don’t birdhouses make the most wonderful gift? My father gave me one years ago and I still enjoy it to this day. I was also amused by the idea of a retiree tinkering away on birdhouses for the local feed store. How quintessential. 


I’ve been trying to think of a way to thank him, as he would not accept payment for his consultation, but living here is tricky in that most people provide for themselves the very things I have to offer as a thank you. I settled on a basket of homegrown goods that would do well in storage, so they would not feel any pressure to use or process them right away. 

Though I cannot imagine a bad foliage year in Vermont, this one seems weary and muted in comparison to years past. I think of the woeful sugaring season earlier in the year and cannot help but worry about the strength and health of our trees. They have endured so much. I know many humans feel the same, and I wonder who will rise from the ashes first. 


The garden is mostly harvested with only carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes remaining. Well, there is also my experimental raised bed of fresh greens in the greenhouse. This is a first for me and I’ve kept my expectations low with my hopes high. I am excited to discover how far I can take fresh greens into late autumn or even winter. If gardening has taught me anything through the years, it is that you can read all the books in the world, but until you try something for yourself (sometimes in a few different ways), you’ll never know the best systems for your individual location and soil. Our garden was so good to us this year and provided all the vegetables we’ll need to see us through winter and early spring. There is an undeniable comfort in that. Grateful is not a big enough word. 


The sounds of late September carry across the ridge in the form of geese flying south, combines in the distant corn fields, and finally, on the eve of October, a crackling fire to warm our bones. 

Slow Down and Notice


On our way home, we took the road that travels by an Amish farm because even though I am among those guilty of romanticizing their very human and imperfect culture, I always ask Adam to drive that way. Especially during gardening season. It appeared services were not held at their farm on this particular day, evident by the absence of the more than a dozen buggies we’d seen parked on a previous Sunday. Barreling down the dirt road toward us, three young boys dressed in crisp handsewn garments held up by suspenders, heads covered with straw hats. All three squished into a single radio flyer wagon, steering as well as anyone can steer one of those things on a hilly dirt road, reserved glee on their faces and a courteous wave for us English-folk passing by. A barefooted young girl aged three or four, dressed in a royal blue cotton dress and black head covering, stayed up on the grass jumping and running alongside them with less restrained glee as three year olds are so good at demonstrating. I hoped she would have a turn on the wagon. 




Our garden is winding down for the year. There is still much harvest to be done, but the inevitable die back of annual vegetables is happening quickly. The last few weeks I’ve been busy with corn and tomatoes, finishing up our bush beans, and just getting started on pole beans. Carrots have reached jumbo stage and early digging of potatoes indicates we’ll be set for winter eating and spring seed, with plenty to share, too. I’ve been tempted to pull our onions because they are so beautiful I cannot wait to see them all lined up curing, but they have another week or two to go before it is time. Cabbages and Brussels sprouts still to come, as well as winter squash. We could really use another two to three weeks without a hard freeze for the squash to fully ripen, but the patch looks promising so far. Overall the garden has provided far more than we could ever expect or need, and I will ease into hibernation knowing that by the sweat of our brow and strength of our tired backs, we are provided for. 


I recently sewed curtains with my daughter for her kitchen and got to thinking that maybe I’d like to sew some for our dining room. I struggle with curtains because they have a way of blocking (partially at least) the very best part of any room: seeing outside. On the other hand, I love beautiful fabric and curtains do provide texture and coziness. And with cozy season ahead, I might just have to go for it. Now the question is do I make them cafe style with a valance or two full panels per window? 



A few nights ago a pack of coyote barreled through the woods at a such a fast clip it was as if they knew their unimpeded, free-running days are numbered, with snow arriving soon than later. Nothing inhibits easy movement through the woods like snow. Unless you’re a moose, I suppose. Can’t imagine they are too bothered by it. It was fun listening to the coyotes; I attempted to imagine how many there were but was unable to. I will say it was more than I’d ever heard in one group before, especially with such an active, full-speed-ahead yelping and howling display. It sounded like the Iditarod was passing through! Adam and I both felt it was such a treat to hear, and we were glad that our own critters had already been locked up for the night. Turkeys have been back in the yard and Scout keeps escorting them back to the woods. Bear dogs can be heard in the distance and unfamiliar trucks have been seen on the ridge looking for unposted land to hunt. 

The weeks roll on, one into the next, and I try my best as I do with each turn of season, to slow down and notice the fleetingness of it all. Something about autumn though… I can hardly believe I get to witness the arrival of yet another one.