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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Putting the Garden to Bed

I think I like putting the garden to bed in the autumn. I think I like it almost as much, if not actually as much, as I do planting it in the spring and tending it in the summer.

 I suppose a smart alec might quip  "Of course one would like putting the garden to bed; it means the end of the WORK!" Yes it does, in a way... and the spring planting means fresh goodness to will be coming soon to break the bland monotony of "fresh" produce selected more for its ability to withstand shipping and sitting in the store than for freshness, taste and nutrition. And hours spent happily "playing in the mud," listening to the songs of returning birds and watching the unfolding of the landscape after its winter rest.

Summer... well summer means it's time to revel in the earth's abundance, picking in the cool early morning on days when the light dew has lifted even earlier and hoeing or pulling weeds until the setting sun pulls its light from the soil and the biting bugs discover the gaps in your coating of repellant.

But fall, well it means more than and end -- actually more just another change -- in the work. It speaks of the hopes of spring, grown through the summer which finally lay, realized, in dusty mesh bags and stand in soldier-straight rows of jars on the pantry shelf. It speaks, yes, of the shrinking daylight and hints of evenings crowded with memories and garden notes and, soon, the wish books of another season.

We have been busy here of late, preparing for the dark half of the year. I believe autumn -- or at least the colors of fall -- are lagging a bit this year. My benchmark for such events is the Common Ground Fair, held around the weekend of Equinox. On my first visit to Maine 5 autumns ago, I attended the fair and enjoyed the riotous colors of the New England countryside which evoked memories of the northern autumns of my youth which I had missed for many years of living in the southlands.

I shall attend the fair again on Friday and note that the trees are only beginning to turn here in Central Maine. Possibly a week will bring them into alignment with my 5 year old memory... or maybe not... as this has been a strange weather year altogether.

Other projects here on the farm include swapping out the front door and in a week or so, building a new deck and steps to accompany it. Our old door had been previously cut down to fit the opening which seriously weakened it. for over a year it has been held together with tie down straps -- my partner's preference over duct tape. Late last fall we got a nice Anderson slider from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore but it was too cold to comfortably enlarge the opening so the project got put off. Then garden season happened, tractor follies and other delights of country living called for our attention but I was determined not to weather another winter with the busted door. Last week I prevailed on a friend to help and in a day we had removed the large window near the old door, shored up the opening and installed the new sliding glass door adjacent to the old glass door. We considered putting a different, new-to-us window where the old door stands (the Fates have graced me with the finding of several virtually new windows this past summer!) but instead will opt to replace the broken panel with its twin which is currently whole and attached to a partial lean-to on the garage. We figure if installed like a window panel (non-opening) it will likely last. 

The old oil furnace has also been on its last legs for several years, so we are not filling its tank this year (we managed with only a partial filling last year, emptying it in early spring) but instead adding wall mount propane space heaters in the living room (will heat living room, kitchen and computer room) and master bath (to prevent pipe freeze and take the chill off the bedroom.)

Hex work continues. In addition to many orders off the web site (www.dutchhexsign.com) I have a continuing thread of custom orders. The design, above, called Nordic Blessed Year, features a chant for Wealth, Wisdom, Harmony, Security and Health and will grace our garage as soon as I can find the time to paint it! I need to re-do the floor and floor covering in the studio this winter so that I can resume using it AS a studio. I will be sharing it with the cages of 4 angora rabbits, the most recent arrivals at the farm.

They, in turn, with their frequent  and necessary brushing, will produce angora fiber for me to spin... in my copious free time.