Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I can't help it- I want to feel that cool dry air. All I can really say about it is Woo Hoo!!
I love fall almost as much as I love spring. The changing angle of the light, shortening of the days, slow shutting down of plants and trees. Soon all will be a blaze of color as the trees begin to turn and then the light will change again and as it drops to the southern horizon it will beam through the house in the morning- tempting me to relax on the couch with a book and another cup of coffee.
We did our quarterly streamwatch snap shot last Sunday. Our contribution to citizen science for the Haw River Assembly. The water levels are back down after the big flood but the debris left behind shows just how high the water went.
The stream bed was literally scoured, I haven't seen it so clean in years. And so there were fewer critters in the rocks and riffles. We still scored an excellent water quality rating for the diversity of macro invertebrates that we found. Translucent crawdads just a half an inch long, tiny brown salamanders with their gills still on, damselflies, the most delicate of all the critters we see in the creek, long legs hiked up to their sides like war of the world spiders and long feathery triple tails that float up in the water behind them like a scorpions' stinger.
The skeeters were ferocious and took a bit of the pleasure out of being down there. The water was 64 degrees, the air 68. My feet were numb after standing in it for a couple of hours and when I got home, I went straight to the shower where I let the warm water run over my puppies to thaw them out before slipping into some long pants and cozy socks.
In a bit I'll head out to water the fall seedlings, things sprouted well and are growing slowly, with the cool weather we might not get the long fall growing season that we've grown accustomed to. But I gotta say, the tender salads of mixed lettuces and arugula we've been eating are making me pretty glad to be alive.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Every morning for months as I've stood at the sink to get water or wash dishes I've been greeted by the hummingbirds visiting the crimson flowers on a cluster of 8 foot tall purple leaved cannas that are growing outside the kitchen window. On still mornings the breeze generated by the blur of their wings actually moves the surrounding foliage of plants they are visiting.
The hummingbirds are now busy dipping their bills into the last of the salvia, zinnias and cannas, looking for any drop of nectar they can find. They need to get as fat as possible for their miraculous journey south. The young hummers buzz about the yard testing their fighting and flying skills. Swooping up and down and strafing one another -- and us if we are sitting in the yard near the feeder. Sometimes they fly right up to the window and just hover there, seeing their reflections, but it feels like they are checking me out. One day soon it will dawn on me sadly that they’re gone.
Our flowerbeds are overgrown and need deadheading, but goldfinches busily eating seeds from the spent coneflowers and sunflowers give me an excuse to postpone that task. Once this rain has passed, I'll get out there to tackle the late weeds and tidy up a bit. D. pulled down the last of the summer tomato vines yesterday, what a wonderful surprise to come home to, I've done that onerous task the last few years and wasn't looking forward to facing the soupy tomatoes hanging on dying brown vines.
We pulled out the rotting squash, snap beans and okra and got the fall vegetables planted just before the big rain from Hurricane Hannah came through. Young plants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards and cabbage are nestled in and the seeds for a myriad of fall greens are all sprouting thanks to the wet warm days of the past couple of weeks. Beets and carrots planted in July are getting some size on them now and lettuce and arugula planted in early August are ready to harvest, the fall veggie season has begun and my mouth is ready.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This is just part of the selection. Center row from left to right: Borlotto beans (also shelled in the bowl at top left), Flageolet, Purple Hull Black Eyed peas (also shelled in freezer bag at top right), Garden of Eden, and at the bottom, Yard Long beans which are really more like 12-16 inches.
Flageolet are just starting to come in, never grew these before, they are small, I guess that is one of the reasons they are special and expensive, more shelling for fewer beans, they are a minty green color and I look forward to tasting them.
An heirloom variety, Garden of Eden, are also new this year, a broad green bean that looks like its going to be tough and stringy but cooks quickly and is tender yet meaty and no strings!
What are not really beans, are purple hulls, a black-eyed pea that freeze really well and make a fabulous soup with greens and some pork product come winter. The perfect dish to dip some cornbread into.
The yard long bean, also truly in the pea family is from southeast Asia. They are bodacious in stir fries and udon noodle dishes.
Last but not least are the Turkey Craw. Somebody gave D these seeds with the story that they were discovered in the craw of a turkey someone butchered. They've got a vine like Jack's that grows to the top of the 8 foot trellis and then all over itself until it makes a big gnarly mop on top and then it starts to set the beans. They are brown when dried, darker on one end of the bean than the other. They have set good fruit this year, better than previous attempts and we are awaiting their maturation so we can harvest and shell them.
The trick with these shell beans is to get them when their shells are starting to dry and feel a bit leathery but before they start to get moldy, a challenge with all the wet weather we've been having. If you aren't planting beans in your garden then you are missing out.
Shelling them is pretty easy, gives you something to do while watching mindless TV, like the Republican National Convention.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
We are so lucky to have a high and dry safe house to live in.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
On to Cape Cod for giant sand dunes, more kayaking, more great fish and lobster and wine to drink, more time with good friends. We paddled our boats among seals and sea birds, swam in the chilly water and basked in the phenomenal weather. I completely understand why millions of people flock to New England in the summer, the climate is perfection, at least it was the two weeks that we were there.
The rain from Hurricane Fay forced us home in 2 days without any campouts. Now we're home; cleaning, gardening and unpacking. Yesterday back to work. Writing for me and art making for D. Hot weather and hurricanes. Bean shelling, pulling out summer veggies and planting for fall. Waiting to see what Hurricane Hannah will deliver later this week.