"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Falling into Fall

More like plummeting, actually.  Not gentle like Alice in the rabbit hole, floating along and watching things drift by, but a headlong, wind-roaring-in-the-ears flight.  Tomatoes, beans, carrots, venison, apples - my canners live on my stove, my counter is never free of jars!  Grass cutting.  Putting the big cover on the pool and the pool pump in the basement. Lots of painting, too.  Yes, for some reason, I always seem to end up painting my porch in October.  Today's effort was to powerwash the house, only to find out that the powerwasher is dead.  So I spent the day with the long-handled scrub brush, getting what I could reach and hosing it all down.  Not as nice as I wanted it, but at least I got the mold off the north wall, the walls around the front door scrubbed, all the windows washed as well. Glad that's done, but my goodness my shoulders are unhappy! 
My antique miracle apple tree has given about four bushels of apples this year.  Extra bounty God sent along because we had no apples in Michigan last year.  I still have about six 5-gallon buckets full to process; most will be applesauce but I'm thinking about making apple juice, too.  It would be nice to have some without pesticides or arsenic or corn syrup added!
When the weather allows, I tend to process my apples out on the patio.  Between boiling the apples to soften them, then dipping them out and putting them through the Victorio strainer, I tend to make quite a mess and it's great to keep all that outside. I love having that strainer - it's the very one my Mom and I used all the time back on the farm.  It's so easy to use, and it's perfect for using the smaller, somewhat gnarly apples we get from the older trees that don't get sprayed.  All I do is chop the apples in quarters, remove the wormy or bruised bits, and throw them in a pot of boiling water on my grill.  Once they've softened enough, I just run them through the strainer and it takes out all the seed, stems, and peels, leaving me with clean applesauce. I jar up the sauce and can it, I like it better than frozen applesauce.  I add water, since the strainer leaves the apples dry, and certain secret spices.  Good stuff!

Jars of Goodness
The house is too quiet with Daughter gone off to college, and some of the chores are a bit much without help.  We only have a 13' above ground pool, one of the blue ones you see in everyone's back yard during the summer - but have you ever tried putting a cover on one by yourself when the wind is blowing?  I finally gave up and waited for her to come home for a weekend and help.
I did get a couple of chances to go outside and play, kayaking and geocaching for a few hours here and there. My Mom and I have been checking out different put-ins for the kayaks and recently paddled several miles on a local river, it was fun but we learned to be careful going under bridges, after a close call with a fisherman's line.  That monofilament stuff is impossible to see when you're just paddling along, minding your own business; thankfully niether one of us dropped a paddle or anything when the guy holding the pole at the other end of the line suddenly yelled at us.
Michigan is just awesome this time of year and I love being out in the elements when it's all happening and changing.  I went on an 'explore' one day last week, and ended up in a small state park on the lakeshore.  It was one of those signature Michigan October days with a stiff northwest wind and bright sunshine chasing the clouds.  The lake was dark blue, looking so cold and deep and lonely one could see November lurking in it's depths, and for once I had no desire to challenge it with a kayak.  A series of white, mountainous clouds came sailing in from the north and stumbled over the low-lying, flat gray clouds that had been hanging over the lake. They tumbled over each other and continued moving south, dragging skirts of snow showers along. 

I moved from the shore along a trail into a lowland woods filled with popples and maples and oaks, all dressed in their autumn finery and chattering loudly to each other, bending their faces away from the wind.  The air was clear, fresh, and filled with the heady scent of fallen leaves, with a hint of woodsmoke and the round, blue scent of the lake. I rounded a corner on the trail just as the sun burst through the overcast, touching a sugar maple and lighting it into scarlet flame.  A sudden gust shook the tree and I threw my head back and laughed and danced in the shower of red and gold, arms spread wide, exulting in the cold, fresh, bright glory, feet shuffling through the carpet of leaves.
Dancing Boots
The sunlight disappeared just as quickly, and I lowered my arms, belatedly looking about to see if anyone else was around.  Thankfully, I had the park to myself that day, or my face would have been as scarlet as the leaves!  I walked the length of the trail, through a light rain that seemed surprised to find itself landing on my shoulders as tiny bits of snow.  It felt so good to move and stretch and warm my muscles with the exercise as my eyes drank in the beauty all around me.  I was tired and happy when I got back to the truck, and finished off a great afternoon with a peaceful drive home, heater on high and a blazing sunset for company.  Doesn't get much better than that!  Happy Autumn, my friends!
One of my favorite viewpoints