I have always thought of September as being the start of a New Year, much more so than January. Years of going to university probably ingrained in me the idea that September is all about beginnings. All those new loose-leaf binders, day planners, back packs, and pens, oh the beautiful pens! And sweaters - I can wear sweaters again.
So this past Labor Day weekend really brought me the sense that Summer is winding down. It's been a good Summer, with many gardening lessons learned. I tried my hand at canning for the first time, bought a freezer and even dried some chard and tea herbs, as I try and get a handle on this whole food security thing. We joined a local organic CSA farm, and I learned a bit about how to cook based on what's in season, rather than what's in the grocery store.
I made a start on a small herb garden, and even tried growing some different types of grains, just to see if it would work. We put in a vegetable garden, and planted a variety of trees. I planted edible plants instead of decorative annuals in my flower pots, and dined on local salad greens. We bought a rain barrel. I tried cooking in my homemade solar oven. I learned more about the plants that grow in my own back yard, and enjoyed many a cup of herb tea from the leaves I picked within 50 feet of my front door. Planting garlic and marigolds around the perimeter of the garden seems to have kept the deer out. It was a good Summer.
And now Fall approaches - quickly. We've had our first frost already and it has spurred us on to split and stack firewood. This weekend we dismantled the Little Garden entirely, and have turned that part of the acreage into a wood storage area. I've moved the compost bin over to the Big Garden area. We're arranging to have the chimney cleaned, and we'll (hopefully) learn from the chimney sweep person how to do it ourselves. We tested out the hand pump for the cistern, and it works! Now we can pump water if our electricity goes out.
And, I picked the first of the corn. I'd forgotten I'd planted a blue corn variety until I shucked the two small ears and saw that one was all decorative-looking. Upon cooking the two ears, the blue corn turned out to be much more tender and tasty than the regular yellow corn. I think I left it too long on the stalk, and I'll probably harvest the rest of the corn right away, even though the ears seem quite small.
The biggest lesson of all seems to be to "Stop, and pay attention." Become attuned to natural cycles. Watch and see which plants like which conditions. Slow down and notice the two beans that look like they're embracing on the vine, or the fuzzy seed pods on the chick peas. The opulent beauty of squash blossoms, and the perfection of a new potato just under the surface of the soil. The resilience of leeks and carrots, despite all the weeds and the days I forgot to water them.
So Happy New Year everyone! May we all experience the vigor and zest that comes with a crisp Fall day, and the cozy contentment of a warm cup of tea on a chilly Fall evening.