Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall: Major Ant Mode

I always think of Fall as the shortest of seasons here in central Wisconsin. We are in the devil's armpit. Cold get really cold pretty damn quick and hot gets way too hot way too soon. Watching the weatherman in the evenings only goes to confirm this. When the cold sinks down into Wisconsin from Canada, we have none of the Great Lakes to mellow out the seasons. If the forecaster calls for patchy frost, we are rolling out major frost warning here.

So as I am finishing up harvesting the crops growing above ground, my 80-year old father is blowing gloom and doom over potatoes possibly freezing in the ground. I blow him off. As of yet, the soil is still warm. We have had sunny days and the dark soil soaks up the heat. But I am not naive. I can only move so fast, in between working and sleeping. I am harvesting not only for myself, but my brother's family as well.

The Twins helped yesterday shelling beans. The beans were of two kinds, a kidney bean and a white northern bean. Soon the boys were able to tell before opening the pods whether they would be white or the dark kidney red. When their Poppa came home, I told him his sons could tell which beans were in which pods. Could he? Perplexed, he said no. How can you tell! Shell a couple and you will see. The white northern beans hold moisture in their pods much longer and are less differentiated around the bean. It is all about being observant. His one son would mutter as shelling, "White beans!"

They also would estimate how many beans to a pod, count them to see if they were right, talked about a couple, some, many, and how we could sort them. We talked about the expression, " Don't spill the beans." They loved the rattling noise the kidney beans made.

Baby Gardener thinks the buoyancy of the shiny globular tomatoes in the sink ever so interesting and laughs at them from his foam seat on the wide counter. He is stuck there and tied in, but can see everything going on around him, even grabbing the large stock pot and holding on tight to the handle to play tug of war with me and hear the cool rattling noise it makes on the soapstone counter.

He is fascinated as I slice and dice them quickly for salsa, and acts like that shiny knife might be a great toy. "NO, Baby Gardener!"

He smiles and laughs every time I make eye contact. He found the bean shelling his brother did interesting. He loves to watch his big brothers work and play and can sit for hours in his jumper, glad to be part of the daily activities.

The maples are dropping leaves and although the leaves will probably be mulched at some point in time, right now they serve as the ultimate outdoor activity. The Twins have filled their wagons with them and use toy rakes and shovel to cart them to and fro, as if this was real and important farm work.

Here in town, the one neighbor is re-roofing his large workshop/garage, another draining their pool. My mother has called asking if I can find time to plant her fall bulbs. She never manages to get ahead of the curve on this and each year I groan when she calls.

I myself have specially-ordered bulbs to plant for next year's garden walk, for which I have already dug their trenches awaiting their arrival. My "site manager" has left a message to call her so we can discuss the Master Gardeners group's expectations...

I have been re-potting, clipping and bringing in pieces of annuals I have which I can envision cascading from pots. My ceramic pots have been cleaned and moved into storage in my grow room adjacent to my bedroom loft.

I am still in dyslexic ant mode, but now it seems the neighbors are, too.

Although temps are in the 30s at night and 50s to 60s during the day, I have not turned on the heat. I have changed out screens for winter panes and installed the foam sweep under the main door. I have moved to scheduling those heat-generating tasks to periods of the days where I can utilize them to add heat to the house. And, after a torridly hot summer I am beginning to open the blinds and curtains to maximize solar heating through my south-facing windows. My house was laid out to follow the sun. I have to wonder how many of my neighbor's older homes are laid out in just such a fashion with the kitchens on the east or south easternly sides of their homes to take advantage of the rising morning sun. The three oldest houses on this block are, I know. Those early Welsh settlers knew something 20th century builders have ignored.

The price of eggs at Aldi's are the most I have ever seen them, at $1.45. My mother says the milk company has released purchasing info that the hundred weight of milk will be $21.00 @ hundred weight at least through January, the highest of which I have heard lately. And every day, I see hay being moved from place to place on flat-bed semis and pick-ups, something I've rarely seen and then only occasionally in the spring. My St. Paul, MN younger sister is in on the frenzy, sourcing hay grown in the wet parts of northern Minnesota and having it shipped to stockpile at the farm.

Be an ant.

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