I’m writing from the corner chair in the living room enclosed by early morning fog that presses against the windows and fills the valley, making sky and ground and everything between a blank nothingness. And an everythingness, waiting for mystery to reveal itself.
The calendar says it’s not autumn yet, but it’s a tease in the PNW, as maybe season changes are everywhere. There will be more sunny days—there had better be, I have at least two more trails to hike—but the 10-day shows only two, both of them Thursday yoga days. Hiking takes precedence over yoga and yard work.
With the predicted rain last Sunday, Chris—the only person I regularly pay to help me with outside work, the single carryover from my mother’s “staff”—called Saturday to see if I wanted him to haul away the pile of yard waste I had accumulated since spring. YES! He and his son came and took two huge trailer loads to the transfer station while I hauled 13 wheelbarrows of blowdown from the past two winters down from the woodlot and threw it in the trailer. The wheel fell off the lightweight barrow—again—and I had to use the ancient heavy one; but it held more of the lightweight cargo.
I had raked the woodlot branches from two snowy blowy seasons into piles last spring, but left them sitting there. I will never skip a spring clean up again. The trees in the lot that used to be horse pasture have grown too close together without my father here to keep thinning them. I had 40 skinny firs cut and chipped a few years ago, but the remainders, that don’t get enough light, still shed volumes of dead twigs.
I printed the annual voucher, good for free drop-off of 1000 pounds of debris at the transfer station. Chris threw on the heavy building supplies my father stored in the barn—for what reason I don’t have a clue—that I have been eager to have gone for years. The weight of that first free load was 940 pounds. While Chris mowed the yard one last time, I added the rotted pile of firewood lengths left from the 40 removed trees to the second filled trailer. That load was 840 pounds.
It was hard work, but it always feels good when weight is gone from this property, like I can breathe again for a while. Chris says he’s getting too old for this kind of work, but he’ll be here with me as long he can. I’ve got 20 years on him, and I worked as hard as he did Saturday, and way harder than his 16-year-old son. And every ounce of the 1780 pounds of debris, except for the glass panes and aluminum-lined plywood, was pruned, picked up, hauled, and dumped in the pullout by me in the past six months. Thank you, strong body with strong hiking legs.
I hugged Chris as he left and told him the summer he quits helping me, is the year I move. He said he will be here, and told me to call if anything comes up over the winter I need help with. 💜
It rained yesterday and I didn’t leave the house, canning another batch of honey lemon applesauce to go with the two batches I did Saturday and Sunday, with apples picked from the neighbor’s orchard before the rains came: 75 half pints. Three jars broke in the canner, but otherwise every one of the lids sealed. I’ve got this down. I made a batch of apple cinnamon muffins for Airbnb guests too. There are apple trees not ready to pick yet, maybe I will make more. I used all my half-pint jars though; if it was enough for the past 12 months, it’s probably enough for the next. (By the way, there’s a new URL for my Airbnb: www.airbnb.com/h/3ofEarthFarm.)
As always, I’m ready for the season change. Ready to be done with everything outside that’s going to be done before it’s wet and cold. Ready to sit at the desk in my study, an afghan over my legs, next to the electric fireplace. Ready to get back to my ancestors project. I got a taste of my cozy room on Sunday and my appetite is whetted. And the women’s writing circle I facilitate resumes next week!
But it’s not time yet. I need to clean up the garden, after the zinnias, tomatoes, and strawberries are finished. And what is with the summer squash? Am I the only gardener on the planet that can’t grow a single zucchini, much less a bushel? Meanwhile, the ornamental pumpkins are multiplying like rabbits. Next summer I will put the squash in a different raised bed.
And there is my mother’s garden to clean up. The Shasta daisies dried up early because the sprinkler system went on the fritz. I need to try again to deal with that too. And there are hoses to put away. Ugh. Today I will schedule the chimney sweep, so the fireplace will be ready to go. I haven’t cleaned the roof in a while, but of course that task is ongoing through winter, especially through winter.
When the weather changes for good, it’s not all cozy-in-the-writing room time: I will resume cleanout of my father’s workshop and inside painting projects. It’s never done. Of course, I hope there will be frequent trips to Seattle to see the Littles, though there is no more weekly child care. Adrian is at a new preschool, Elliot started kindergarten, my daughter-in-love Wynne began her sixth year of teaching at the same school they attend. (First days were all “really great!”). And daughter Emma is coaching Elliot’s soccer team! I’m going to a game Saturday.
I need to take the next step on my memoir, whatever that is, and see if it’s worthy to be sent into the world. I have a bit of news about the memoir, but I’m not quite ready to share it. Next week! A new offering is coming to Three of Earth Farm too. A post about that is coming soon. Here’s a teaser: Take a day away from the stresses of life and spend it in stillness.
That’s it from the “farm” on the hill. I know this time of year brings sorrow to many people to the same degree it brings me joy. It did my mother. My heart is with you.
11 thoughts on “Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Autumn Again”
Thank you, Gretchen…..I am loving your words and your pictures. Your blog is a balm to my whole being! Thank you, thank you!!!
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How nice to hear from you, Judy. And thank you. 💜
I have wanted for some time to mention that I really like this new theme for your blog. Nicely done.
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Thank you! I noticed recently the date doesn’t get auto posted.
Would you share your recipe for appkesauce? Thanks!
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I don’t really measure much, just to taste, so every batch tastes different. But 20 apples peeled and cored, then lemon (I start with 1/4 c of bottled cuz somewhere I read it has something in it fresh doesn’t that is a preservative–or something, then add fresh to taste), lemon peel, cinnamon (1-1/2 tsp), and honey (I start with 1/2 c).
I missed most of the blog, so in re-reading…I too hate the work, love the work, and allow a sense of accomplishment with the diagonal lines of cutting in the front and the wild turned into a simple circular ‘labyrinth’ in the back. Still in the 90’s in central Texas, I feel the beginning of ‘cool’ and it feels just right.
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All so nice! But doesnt anything grow under the trees?? 😅
Not much. Moss. Some undesirables like blackberry I will have to stay on top of so it doesn’t take over, ditto holly. There are sword ferns where it gets more light. I would love for it to fill with fern. Some salal. I’ve seen Indian pipe, but didn’t this year. Maybe some–yuk–alder. But all of it is just little sprouts. I don’t know why it’s so void, but I’m guessing lack of light, or the soil that’s full of fir needles, or… I need my dad; I have questions. It used to be grass and daisies. I guess he planted the trees. I should have asked my mother. Or maybe I did, but too late; she couldn’t remember. I could ask my neighbor! I bet he would know.
Ah, the fog and the bright fall days in the PNW how I miss both. Autumn is beautiful here, too; but no fog ever. Miss the fog.
I came back for the fog and the rain. Seriously. I love fog so much.