Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Snow Day: Winter 2011-2012

View out my front door this morning

Astrolabe in my front garden. What you can't see are the two large limbs from my white pine lying in my yard or the one pushing against my telephone line.

Yesterday, we got walloped with a huge snow storm of wet, heavy, drifting even, snow. Mixed in with rain. It rained heavily for a good hour or so before in a space of a mere ten minutes or so switched over to snow. I expect the short window of time between rain and snow was to our benefit, little ice was laid down on roadways, which could have been worse than they were. As it was, there were a couple bad crashes around the state including the one near Shawano where a van carrying six souls became a fiery inferno. Local school let out here at 1 PM.

I was spending the day with my nephews out at the Pipe House. We often looked out the windows and uttered the word, "snow". Not in wonder or in awe, but more in a sigh of inevitability, that even the twins seemed to grasp. We read about snow, but we played with trains, and read some more, and ate broccoli harvested just this Sunday from the family garden, which nearly filled a 3-gallon pail.

My mother called me apologizing to me that I was out at the Pipe with the boys rather than herself in such weather. I told her not to worry, I'd rather be there than have my 76-year old mother (with not the best eyesight) navigating Hwy.10 where fools all drive like they are in a parking lot traveling at 70+ mph.

It rained pretty much the entire day before, too.

After an incredibly short growing season of a bare 103 frost-free days, the sweet potatoes were covered and we eked out a bare 120 days before I dug them fearing the ground would get wetter or colder, leading to rot; it now seems we are in winter mode. People around here are already dreading winter and its possible length. I have not yet spoken with the local Snow Witch to ask her opinion on the number of snow falls (which she always seems to have an incredibly knowledgeably accurate grasp. I do know fall was merely a too short respite for our winter-weary souls here.

I have not planted my garlic for next year yet. Garlic is a staple in much of the canning I do, and definitely a key component in pizzas and Italian sauces around here. This weekend, the weatherman promises us temps in the upper 40s to mid-50s and a bit of sun. I hope he is right. I had thought this storm over, but winter is still sending down some big fluffy, happy flakes. Hopefully, it will count as a second snowfall on the Snow Witch's winter tally.

My brother showed me the last of the harvest he had gleaned from his wife and my gardening experiment. We did deem it a success. We intend to continue our efforts next year, tweaking our plans a bit. His wife will be giving birth to their third child at the beginning of next spring. Her efforts in the garden will be minimal, and transient. My brother has expressed a desire for a "more weed-free look," although he does confess the volume of our harvest given weeds impressed him.

He confessed that from July through October he ate at least one meal every day solely from the garden in addition to what I harvested and took home, and veggies I took my mother, the meals the twins and I foraged (they loved the raspberries, strawberries, and ground cherries). Seeing the potatoes pop out of the ground, was very exciting for them.

More sweet corn, less cabbage. Fall plantings only of broccoli and peas, were some of his suggestions. Pears. Plant pears, he said. The boys and he all love pears. I did plant four sweet Lapin cherry trees this fall. And although we planted 19 blueberry bushes, he thinks we need more. And endive, if I can sort that out of the mesclun mixes he would appreciate it.

As I was busy bringing the sound of music to the Austrian Alps and garbing the von Trapp children in play clothes sewn from curtains the seasons have inexorably ground down into winter. I hope for just a handful of snow-free days, before all my gardening turns inward.

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