Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sensing Summer Past its Prime

I had a wonderful, full day in the garden yesterday. The poor thing has been much neglected, between weather being far too hot mid-day for me to work, having to leave most days for work-in-town at 5 AM and thus falling to sleep early, and running out of steam at the end of the day -- not wanting to rev up just after supper when I know bed will/must come at or before sunset. And of late, rain. Not that I mind the rain, but it started rather soon after I bit the bullet and bought sufficient 75' soaker hoses to go on our existing 50' ones to water the "100 foot rows" we are set up with this year. Yeah, those are LONG 100 foot rows!  LOL

Working in bits and starts I am beginning to get the piles of mulch hay -- left over from sheltering the chickens over the past winter -- moved into the garden. There is still much to move and many places it can and should go. First priority has been the tomato plants -- hoping that it will help keep the fruit off the ground and thereby alleviate some rotting -- and the vine crops and late broccoli which I was working on yesterday. I was working two rows at once -- hand weeding and laying mulch -- and got half of the two done. That used up one Artie-load of mulch and I had planned to reload and resume the attack, but K watching the radar said weather was coming so I moved on to more urgent projects.

There were peppers, cukes and still some peas to be picked and I desperately needed to get the woad seed harvested. I totally missed harvesting the leaves for dye, but now have at least a gallon or two of seed (yeah, you read that right? Need woad seed? I'm your gal!) and am plotting to plant the west garden to the crop next spring. If even half the seeds germinate I should have quite a bit of dye fodder. While I was working the woad (clipping the dried seed stalks, upending them in a lightweight plastic trash can and beating them about in the can to knock off the seeds) I noticed that there was basil to be harvested as well. Got a good lot of it as well, about 3" deep in the bottom of the bushel basket.

The previously harvested herbs have been mostly dry for days, but the humidity has not allowed them to finish sufficiently to be packed in jars or bags. Normally I put them in an oven heated to 170 degrees, and then turned off, where they stay for a few minutes to remove the last bit of moisture. However the oven has a quirk. When the propane is about to run out, the oven stops working. Frustrating, but not nearly as much so as totally running out of gas at an inopportune time, so I deal with it. NOW the tank has been swapped, so the oven is online again and the herbs can be finished which will give me places to begin drying the basil.

I also noticed that there had been a deer in the garden, just one track and I spotted where it had breached the deer fence, so fixing that the putting down a mixture of rotting egg and water around the perimeter and on the bean plants -- which, along with the tomatoes, are heavily laden with blossoms and ripening fruit -- was high on the list. Since I knew rain was coming (which kind of defeated the rotten egg by today, but I have plenty more eggs to rot and apply!) I also wanted to add some fertilizer to some of the heavy feeders, both of which I got done.

Today, is a different day. The rain is likely to hang around all day, and as I was driving home from work I found my mind wandering not along garden paths, but along spiritual thought and study trails. Now, the northern trad path I follow has a different take on the "light side" and the "dark side" of the year. From spring equinox to fall, we are out and about, busily occupied DOING. It is the productive time of the year, when the animals and plants take our attention, as we help them increase and provide sustenance for ourselves and others for the coming  year.

The dark side of the year -- fall equinox to spring -- the focus is different. Of course doing doesn't stop. Animals still need tending, tools mended, and the inside chores continue unabated. But that is reflected in the non-material world as well; the focus is on the inside... on study, learning, contemplation... things that accompany the spinning and weaving, mending and sewing taking place around the hearth.

And on my way home today, I felt the first stirrings of that call to turn inward... to work more with the Runes, to work with my staff in magic and rhythm, to get the spinning wheel fine tuned and turn the wool I have carded into yarn.

Now, there will be at least two more months of garden busy-ness. There are tomatoes and potatoes and beans and carrots and apples from down the road to be processed and put by. The earth needs to be turned and put to bed; the perennials still need mulching and the fowl need coops.  But the countdown has begun, to the time of inward turning, quiet, contemplation.

And then, about 6 months from now, if not before, the garden will once again begin its siren call.