And, so it is (pace Winston) the middle of the end of Summer.
I wake up when it is still dark and it turns dark when I am still sitting out on the porch, knitting, or writing, or reading for work. I know that I have only a few more weeks of being able to eat breakfast out there (even adding my bathrobe) and then only a very few weeks beyond that for dinner.
Acorns have begun to drop from onto my roof, making the sound that only acorns make. Whenever I hear them, I remember my first year in this little cottage. I moved here at the beginning of October and the four surrounding oak trees (two of them are gone now) dropped acorns every few minutes onto the roof. The sound scared my sweet cat, Miss Thing — she was always skittish and high-strung; if she’d been a girl, a pea several mattresses below would have bruised her. And so I’d pet her, and she’d calm down, and then another acorn would hit the roof. I love the sound, although it means that I have to step carefully on my way each morning to the car; stepping on an acorn is like stepping on a marble. The squirrels love the large, flat stones that Landscape Guy laid down for my walkway; they think those stones are custom made for cracking acorns and, indeed, they are. But every now and then the busy squirrels forget one and I don’t want to step on a rolly-polly, hard, round acorn — and fall.
The Queen Anne’s Lace has gone to seed weeks ago and even the Black-Eyed Susans are through with their blooming, although the goldfinches are still pulling seeds from them and from the daisies that I should have deadheaded two weeks ago. My cottage gardens are down to obedient plant. In a week or two, the toad lilies will bloom and then (hopefully, given last Winter’s chill) the Autumn camellias. After that, it’s a long wait until the first little crocus blooms in the southern bed off of my deck, generally in early March.
There are still tomatoes, and peaches, and plums, and fat ears of corn at the farmers’ market, and the doughnut lady asks every weekend after G/Son, but I can see the shift to apples, and acorn squash, and brussels sprouts. Oysters and cider, Virginia ham and sweet potatoes, mustard and kale.
This weekend, I’m going to pull out all of the squash plants, pick the last of the peppers, cut off all of the cardoons, and put in Winter crops: chard, spinach, carrots, fast lettuces, beets. For me, it’s the work of a priestess, a part of being in relationship with my landbase. In a few more weeks, I’ll plant garlic. I’ll keep picking basil and making small batches of pesto until we get a really hard freeze. If I can find time, I’ll freeze some tarragon butter and some thyme butter. Maybe make some shortbreads with rosemary, tarragon, thyme.
All this Winter, I’ll be making soup from the vegetables and herbs that I’ve frozen.
A Witch’s job is to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel must turn.
May your shoulder nudge the Wheel. May the Wheel shift under your shoulder.