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Friday, September 18, 2015

Hope for a Good Season

This week I have been thinking a lot about gratitude and thinking of the sign, above, that I found last year and still hangs on my wall.

Harvests are iffy things. Some years they are good, other years less so, but like the fishermen and boat builders of the Core Banks (about whom the book by the same title as my post was written) what keeps the farmer, the gardener, the hunter, as well as the fisherman going is hope.  And, in many ways, being able to live within your harvest, however that may turn out.

It can be easy to be grateful for abundant harvests. I can also be a challenge, when the last thing you want to look at is ANOTHER sack of potatoes or onions, another bushel of tomatoes to can or another few pounds of an herb that you usually deal with in ounces.

I try to always be grateful, even with extreme abundance, and not to fuss while finding shelf space or freezer room or still more jars. This year's overabundance may very well pad the larder in a year to come. This is the case here at the sign of the Fussing Duck this year; our tomato crop has gone down the tubes. Between a late, cold start and uneven temperatures and rain, the blight and the marauding fowl I have harvested barely a half a bushel of fruit. We are out of canned whole tomatoes, BUT thanks to an overabundance last year, we still have many jars of tomato sauce on the shelves. Cucumbers also are a bust, but with a bit of care we will still have pickles and relish sufficient to get us through.

Likewise it can be very hard to be thankful for meager crops, but we must remember that each plant is trying its best, regardless. If a tomato or a bean or pea plant produces a single fruit, bean or pod of peas, it has more than replaced the seed I planted to grow it. And, even in the worst of years, those plants that survive most likely produce many more than just a single offering.

My 75' row of "Vermont cranberry beans" which started out as a handful of seed from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) seed and scion exchange in 2014 grew enough seed for the long row last year. This year I have a canvas shopping bag full of dry pods, hopefully some to eat and sufficient seed to plant two rows next year. They, too, got a late slow start but they gave their all and I am grateful.

In addition to putting up tomatoes (6 quarts) and having three trays marjoram and two of basil in my newly acquired electric food dehydrator, I have a large baking sheet of basil being frozen. It will join the remaining "overabundance" of parsley from last year in the "fresh frozen herb" larder. I also have dill weed frozen and many more stalks currently air drying.

In the hex world, abundance is again flowing. There is an order for three signs from a single customer on the books, an order for a single small one and -- best news -- the 4' sign destined to adorn the draft horse barn at the Common Grounds Fair is well underway. I am excited to be able to support the Penobscot County Chapter of MOFGA and the fair with my talents! It will be hard work to continue getting the harvest in (there are still potatoes, carrots and cabbage out there, plus lettuce and chard) while getting ready to spend two days painting as a demo at the Fair. If things go as well there as they did at the 55th Anniversary Community Appreciation Day event put on by Pomeroy's Garage August 1, I will have all my orders completed and ready to go by the end of the demo.

Meanwhile, I will be off to a natural dye workshop tomorrow at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.