October 2, 2019 by Jean
I have been away from this blog for too long. I seem to have experienced time flying past more strongly than usual this summer, with repetitions of “How can it be August already?,” “How can it be September already?” and now “How can it be October already?” But there is no denying that the earth is continuing its annual revolution around the sun, that the northern hemisphere is now tipped away from the sun, and that summer has turned into autumn.
The signs of seasonal change are all around me. The summer hiatus of my choral singing group ended several weeks ago, and fall classes at the Senior College began last week. The truckload of winter firewood that was dumped in my driveway in early September needs to be stacked. The little cherry tree outside my study window has already dropped all its leaves, and brightly colored maple leaves are starting to flutter down into the driveway. The fall asters are blooming in my garden, and most other plants have finished their bloom period and are going into dormancy. We haven’t had a frost yet, but it is probably just a matter of days until that happens.
In my garden, the last of this year’s bumper crop of monarch butterflies has emerged from its chrysalis and flown away, presumably headed for their winter hibernation grounds in Mexico.
On local farms, the focus of activity has shifted from planting and growing to harvesting. This means that it is time for me to preserve fresh food for winter eating. This is an aspect of the seasonal change that I love; I get great satisfaction from watching those harvest stores pile up in my freezer and on my pantry shelves. In August, I processed and froze 14 quarts (20 lbs.) of wild Maine blueberries. I also made pesto, froze it in ice cube trays, and now have two quart bags of pesto cubes in the freezer. Three additional quart bags hold sliced and frozen bell peppers (two bags of green peppers and one bag of red). A few weeks ago, I canned seven quart jars of whole tomatoes. I picked up another twenty-pound box of canning tomatoes yesterday and will can them today in a mixture of quart and pint jars. Soon, I will begin buying winter squashes, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. These will be roasted, pureed and stored in the freezer for winter soups and desserts. I just ordered my annual fresh local turkey; I will roast this for Christmas dinner and eat the leftovers all year long.
Making room for all this harvest bounty means finishing up last year’s preserved food. I still have two packets of turkey meat from last year’s turkey in the freezer. I will use one of these to make a turkey entrée during October and save the last one to make a turkey parmesan soufflé for Thanksgiving. Valuable freezer real estate is also being taken up by one last quart of last year’s turkey stock and two pints of pureed pumpkin; these can be used to make soup, which replaces warm-weather salads on my lunch menu during the cold-weather months.
I am sorry to see the warm sunshine and gentle breezes of the Maine summer go, and I am not yet psychologically ready to face the rigors of the Maine winter. But fall is a beautiful season in its own right. It’s time to embrace the turn of the season and the joys this new season brings.