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Katchie Verner's Harvest

The Harvest

It pleasures her to gather
A hoard when autumn comes:
Of grapes in scroll-worked silver,
Red-streaked-with-amber plums,
Winesaps and seek-no-farthers,
Green peppers, russet pears,
White roastin'-ears for drying
On frames above the stairs,
Queer handled gourds for dishes
And dippers at the spring,
Long butternuts, fat pumpkins,
Cream-colored beans to string,
Wild meats to jerk and pickle,
Brown chestnuts tipped with cold,
Cranberries from the marshes,
Tree honey dripping gold.

In barrels and crocks and suggins,
In pokes upon the floor
And hanging from the rafters
Is Katchie Verner's store
Against the mountain winter
When sleet-hard drifts will freeze
The deep loam of her garden
And gird her orchard trees.

~Louise McNeill

If ever there were a year to feel settled and comfortable and pleased, I think this one would be it.  There are about twenty pumpkins in the garden and I picked the dry October beans today.  Beets are growing and there are onions to string.  The blackberries keep coming and the cherry tomatoes runneth over.  Of course, the thought of feeling comfortable makes me feel nervous at the same time.  Life is so full of surprises.  I remember back to the year we lost our jobs and I was pregnant with Willow and we worked so hard to store away a lot of food.  I had visions of being holed up in our house with a little baby and all that food.  Mike did find a job and started the day after she was born and what a shock that was.  It was good, of course, but being a new mother in an empty house was strange and so, so quiet.

The quiet days are gone now, and the number of people and their appetites have grown.  I am trying to squirrel away all this food, in part, because I know some of it won't be available to me next year.  The Roland Estate will sell and the future feels uncertain, living so close to Main Street and commercial properties.  Another reason is that it finally feels like I have gained the confidence to branch out and experiment--tomato sauce instead of whole tomatoes, blackberry cordial in addition to jam, numerous types of pickles.  Still another reason is the generally unpredictable nature of life.  We've got some challenges ahead that feel really unknown and it is in my nature to always think ahead and prepare.  With shelves full of luxury foods (as jams and pickles and juices are) a freezer full of berries, a growing woodpile, and more shelves full of fabrics for clothes, I feel safe.

There's a lot of apple sauce and apple butter on the horizon, more of the former with blackberries in it.  Late apples just don't have the flavor of their early counterparts.  I am thinking about mint jelly, but it feels a little frivolous.  I've got herbs drying on the back porch and beans to shell, though just a few.  Some things are for novelty, after all.  This gardening project has been above all, a way to show the children what you can do with a package of seeds and some water and sunshine.  They'll need these things in their store of memories. 


( 6 trees — Plant a Forest )
Aug. 15th, 2016 01:06 pm (UTC)
Your pantry is a sight to behold! Good job! I love that poem that you posted - such wonderful imagery. I'm sure all of this gardening and preserving has made a deep and meaningful impression on your children. - Stacey
Aug. 15th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It feels like a small amount compared to some I have seen, but it is a nice variety.
Aug. 16th, 2016 04:50 am (UTC)
That is a beautiful pantry!
Aug. 16th, 2016 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 17th, 2016 10:47 am (UTC)
Thanks! It is pretty colorful this year. It's all part of a very un-glamorous basement. ;-)

The Roland Estate is, pretty well, an estate now. Don and Enid are gone, and an adult daughter lives there who needs some assistance. This is the property where the apple trees, blackberries and raspberries are. I have all that in my yard, on a small scale. When we wassailed the trees, it was their trees we did. My garden annex is there, too.

I'm pretty much ready to dive in. I want to finalize the calendar for the coming months and learn some of the new material we'll need for grade two. I think we are all looking forward to a new routine.
( 6 trees — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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