I’ve been deeply enjoying the long, slow autumn moment these past few weeks, with the low temperatures flirting with freezing but not going far enough below to make all the trees’ leaves fall. Instead, they’ve been passing slowly through the fantasy of fall colors, lighting me up inside with each walk out on the land. Ted here with this week’s news from Dancing Rabbit.
The gardens may have slowed down quite a bit, but they have not stopped. Anyone who has grown kale and other brassicas knows that they get sweet and good to eat after the first frost, so we’re starting to enjoy them more and thinking about freezing and otherwise preserving the remainder. I’m watching to see when it will get cold enough to require that we harvest the remaining cabbage and brussels sprouts to store in the root cellar, and when to pull the turnips, storage radishes, Chinese cabbage and daikon radishes for various fermentations that will nourish us through winter.
Prairie dug our sweet potatoes this past week (we’d snipped the vines when frost came), and now we must sort the potatoes that have been curing under cover on the back porch, saving aside seed potatoes to plant in spring, and mixing bags of the remaining potatoes to eat over the coming months. That will free up the trays for curing the sweet potatoes, though we’ve been eating some in their starchy state this past week, too impatient to wait. She also started breaking up our seed garlic heads and sorting cloves for planting soon. Still much to do.
Aurelia started the first fire in our kitchen’s cook stove Monday, and the delicious warmth turned my spirits right up. We have not had any fires at home just yet because I’ve managed to leave us with an open wall in the process of rebuilding, despite the lateness of the season for that sort of thing. It is a relatively small wall, and has a greenhouse around it, so we’re not open to the elements, but neither are we protected from the cold nights. The new door and first window went in this past week, and I’m glad that within a few days we should have most of the remaining elements in place. The first sections to get insulated are insinuating warmth to come, if not quite providing it.
Quite a bit of work continues in the village, of a more visible sort. Out on Skunk Ridge, the newest frontier of the village, a local team of Kyle, Scout, and Thomas has been reshaping the earth significantly to prepare the foundation for Connie’s new house. The lower floor is significantly earth-sheltered, so that meant removing quite a bit of material from the excavation, and finding places for it to go. Some went to building a new path crossing over the draw just south of there. In a pedestrian-oriented village, footpaths are important connectors between one part of the village and another.
Just next door, Dorothy had a crew come this week to install her rainwater cistern, which meant another heaping scoop of earth to remove and various loads of sand and gravel imported for backfilling the cavity. Inside, recent visitor Jed, now staying for a few weeks to work exchange with Liz, spent several days finishings the electricals, freeing me up to work on my wall at home. Simultaneously, French brought over and set to installing the kitchen cabinetry after recently finishing the interior trim in the house. With the plumbing added in, the house is rapidly approaching completion.
With diminishing returns in recent weeks, the dairy co-op stopped milking goats toward the end of this week. I was engaged in a flurry of last-minute feta and chevre making, wanting to build up a good supply, and though I’ll welcome more time to put into finishing my wall and other fall tasks, I’m also going to go into withdrawal from the steady supply of goat cheeses and milk we’ve enjoyed since spring. Cycles continue. At least Sugar, our cow, will continue producing milk for months to come, so I still get to play cheesemaker. Having recently made mozzarella and had the most amazing stretchy results, I’ve got some new inspiration to keep me going.
This past weekend Avi and Anna celebrated their marriage here in the village with friends and family from both near and far. With the Mercantile catering the various meals, locals and visitors mingled and celebrated with everything from ultimate frisbee to dancing, brunches and a lavish spread for the celebratory meal on Saturday night. Local foods featured heavily, and I was especially taken with Alline’s transformation of some of my feta with marinating herbs to accompany the falafel, hummus, olives, salad and other delectables. The 10-layered honey cake for desert was simply amazing.
The afternoon ceremony out on the west slope near Dan’s vineyard was a lovely, intimate affair blending several traditions from Anna’s and Avi’s lives, and attended by a small crescendo of sprinkling rain that never quite reached the point of needing a change of location, and which stopped again by the conclusion. It had been a few years since we’d had a nuptial celebration here in the village, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Perhaps the crowning moment, though, came in the evening after dinner, when the sun broke below the clouds for a bit and lit up a rainbow in the receding moisture to the east. The married couple were strolling outside for this, and it clearly tied up their bond with an emphatic glow from the heavens.
Our final tour of the year came through on Saturday, concluding an extremely full year, but while we have largely wrapped up our various visitor programs for the season, more friends and family still plan to visit. We’ve had a former Rabbit, Stefanie (who lived here from 2003 – 2005), here this week to celebrate her 50th birthday and catch up. Former member, Jan, will arrive later this week just in time to celebrate Hollerween with us (our local variant on the holiday), and my mother Anne will also be arriving soon to stay a couple weeks at her house in Rutledge.
I hope that fall’s bounty of color and produce is filling your life with joy as well, wherever you may be, and that you have plenty of fuel stocked, and no more walls open to the elements than are strictly called for. Happy Halloween to all the ghouls and goblins out there this week, and stay in touch!