Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dark of the year

At my age, I'm finding I don't get out for chores much when the thermometer drops below fifty Fahrenheit, or it's dark and I'd have to wear a headlamp, or rain gear would be called for, or rime coats the fence posts. One or other of these conditions obtains pretty much all the time now, what with its being an el Nino year and all.

It's teatime all the time, and sit-by-the-fire time, and visit time and such. Visitors create dishes, and I like doing dishes; it's a kind of meditation and an excuse not to camp out on Facebook.

There was one decent freeze, lasting about three days, and I went so far as to cover the kale, chard and beets, which went well. I find I am cutting the beets and chard more than the Red Russian kale, which seems a bit coarse even after the freeze. Some broadbeans are also up and I have been taking some greens from those as well.

Along with the beets, I am finding onions that were missed in the fall -- they are sending up shoots and giving themselves away. Add to these some corn from the freezer, and homegrown meals are turning out all right.

The Granny Smith apples hung on through the freeze and I'm finally getting around to them -- enough for pie.

All that is left is the Granny Smiths; she
Loves that they cling to their shivered tree,
Leaves long gone. Even the hens have left off
Trusting the sky to toss them sugar, and
Have retired to their tractor, pecking
At store-bought feed in its styrene bin.
The winds whistle through, rasping
Ink-black twigs together; the apples nod and
Stub their green bellies. She
Lifts ten or so down, as if they were
Each one of her own breasts, tenderly
Filling her small basket. In the kitchen
They will sit shyly waiting their turn:
It is the season for other foods; in
Stoneware bowls, nuts and citrus
Talk among themselves in distant tongues.
Here her hands make outland meals,
Even finding work for lemon skins.
Granny Smiths are not much favored,
Really, by her guests; in festive mood, if an
Apple is desired, they'll reach for waxed,
Not thinking of that one tree, struggling
Night and day to keep for them fresh joy.
Yet she knows she cannot blame them;
Shy apples do their best in pie.
Moonlight limns the fruit she did not pick;
If some green globes remain at large tonight,
The morning light will prove, tomorrow,
Holiday for those that cannot buy.
Squirrels and towhees will know what to do.

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