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.