Friday, August 27, 2021

One can always hope

In recent years, our summers have fallen into a pattern. Although summer here has always been a dry season, with often no rain between about July 5 and September 5, that season has expanded until it seems to run from about March to November. One consequence of this expansion has been that, at some point, we expect to see a cloud suddenly appear over the vicinity of Fall Creek, about twenty-five miles away. 

This is not a water vapor cloud.

 As the cloud approaches, we button up the house and turn on the HEPA filter. 

This year's fire has not garnered much press, and most people don't even seem to know its name. It's the Gales Fire, some 16,000 acres so far. It has killed a firefighter and burnt up several miles of the upper Fall Creek valley. Media, when mentioning it, refer to it by its management name, Middle Fork Complex, and say it is near Oakridge, but that's because the MFC icon on maps splits the difference between the locations of twelve or so lightning fires that began on the Middle Fork Ranger District on July 29th. With so much going on, especially south of us--

[NOAA-HRRR smoke map]
 --our neck of the woods has become distinctly non-newsworthy. Nevertheless, we keep a wary eye on what's happening east of us, and also periodically remind one another that conditions for new fire starts are far from over.

Meanwhile, the garden has, with some losses, survived the heat waves. There's still lots of kale, chard, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some zucchini. The potatoes, less than last year's crop but substantial, are out of the ground and in storage. The winter squash, including all the seedlings grown from "Sweet Meat" labeled seeds, proved to be (alas) nearly all spaghetti squash, and the yellow blimps are hardening off to be gathered next week. I grew out a packet of corn, but that's for seed; I'll pull up the plants and hang them on the maple tree until the sweet kernels turn to "flint."

There are here three kinds of pears, and they bore well; the first to come in are the Bartletts. They seem to be turning a mushy brown within hours of ripening, so I have gathered them all green and keep an eye on them. When there are enough of them close enough to ripe to process, I turn them on the apple peeler-slicer-corer and load up the largest crock pot. If it's not a full pot I add enough apples -- Egremont Russet and Cortland at present -- to make a batch of chunky pear sauce and water-bath can them in pint jars.

It has not been a stellar berry year for us but I should not complain as I have managed to pick all the blackberries there is room for in the freezer.

Tomatoes have come in, never a great lot of them at a time, but enough, and I have been putting up spaghetti sauce, with an emphasis on canning in eight ounce jars, as none of us eats with anyone else these days.

I'm about out of jars, just as the tomato pace is beginning to pick up, and will be inviting friends to "glean" -- in this case, harvest many large baskets full of -- tomatoes, pears, and apples.

Maybe they'll take some spaghetti squash?

One can always hope.

 
Most of a lifetime has swiftly gone.
On the spiritual foundation not a single speck has been polished.
While indulging, life randomly passes day after day.
If you are called but do not turn around, what can be done?

-- Xuefeng, quoted by Dogen in Instructions to the Cook, tr. Leighton and Okumura

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Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre