In browsing my own Archives page, I see that I write the same post at the beginning of every fall. Here, then, is the 2008 version.
This morning I used a towel that had been hung out to dry on my laundry line some weeks ago. It smelled a bit like dirt, but in a good way, and a bit like the ancient and monstrous walnut tree that dominates our yard. Later today the laundry line is scheduled to come down as cooler, wetter weather settles down on us here in Portland. I’ll miss the earthy towels.
From here, the walnut tree will drop leaves and nuts until sometime in December, and then it will drop branches until springtime. I love that tree, though, as much as I fear being squashed in my bed in the middle of the night by an old, dead part of it. I like the way it makes the laundry smell when it’s warm enough to dry our clothes outdoors.
The season — heck, the whole year — has been so packed that it should hardly surprise me that fall was swung back around; but it does. As usual. This year the chicks turned into pullets and then into egg-laying hens — one egg from each every day, in fact. Having the hens around isn’t as quiet and idyllic as I imagined it would be, but I am glad they are here. I like those gals, even if they are chickens.
Though we were away from home quite a bit this summer, the garden still managed to produce some food for us — which is impressive since there was no pest control to speak of, very little fertilizer, and both flood and drought conditions. I’ve got onions hung up in braids in the basement (I was inspired after reading a forty-nine-cent Goodwill copy of Little House on the Prairie) and quite a stockpile of homemade pizza sauce made with our tomatoes and our garlic. There is jam too, of course, and three new batches of berry wine going through a secondary ferment. I’ll bottle them early in the new year.
I think somedays that these practices are baby steps toward self-sufficiency, but mostly I brew and sew and put up preserves because I enjoy these activities and because I am very picky. Making my own jam, for example, means that I can control exactly what is in it. Plus, I like having what I need here in the pantry. A cache of indispensable, basic items like chicken stock and yellow onions and black thread makes me feel somehow safe. Call me old fashioned if you must.
I am looking forward to the natural slowing that begins in the fall, and to the rich squash soups and baked fruit desserts that just don’t taste as good in the summertime. I swear, I write about squash soup every year, don’t I? I like it loaded with ginger and garlic, served next to a big salad and toasted slices of fresh baguette from the bakery down the street. I’m looking forward to spiced cider as well, and to wild-fermenting my own apple juice again. Last year the Squeeze said it tasted like model airplane glue, but I thought it was delicious. But maybe I shouldn’t admit that, or you won’t stick around for the ’09 version of this post.