These are the good old days.
The heat wave ended a few days ago, what a welcome relief! It is 7:30 a.m. as I begin this entry, and the big trucks are backing down the street, beeping and roaring, as they deliver big machinery to the building site at the end of our street. This is the third summer of construction, with the constant traffic of huge trucks, material delivery vehicles, and construction workers. Some of the rental units there are complete, so there is constant traffic as the new residents drive or walk out of their neighbourhood, our street is their only entrance/exit.. It is a bottleneck of extremely poor planning decisions. The noise is constant as well, construction is a noisy business. But all this commotion doesn’t stop me from sitting on the back porch and enjoying the birds, the breeze, the bees, and all the wonderfulness of the back garden. It is so important to find time for a pause in the day’s occupations, to linger with those who are kept forever in the round-tower of my heart.
August has been a very busy month. The garden, the harvest, the preservation, the basement organization project, all these projects clustered around the month of August.
Cucumbers and Zucchini:
To date the most prolific yield from the garden has been Cucumbers. Six cases of Dill Slice pickles later, and there are still a few more Cucumbers to come in, but perhaps not enough for a another batch of pickles. The second most prolific crop has been the Zucchini, and it is not slowing down. What to do with a bumper crop of Zucchini? Zucchini-Pineapple is our answer this year. I have canned two cases of Zucchini-Pineapple, and as soon as my delivery of organic lemon juice arrives I will be canning another dozen or so jars of it.
The Zucchini are piling up in the refrigerator, because the grocery store where we order our groceries online had no Lemon Juice, which is a vital ingredient for canning Zucchini-Pineapple. I had to order Lemon Juice from Toronto, so that canning project is on hold, waiting for the delivery. The order hasn’t shipped yet, oh dear.
Strawberries and Rhubarb:
Self-isolation means no access to purchase fresh produce, fruits or vegetables, in quantities to preserve. We missed picking fresh local Strawberries, and had to settle for buying a kilogram of frozen foreign Strawberries instead. This past week I used the garden Rhubarb I had frozen this spring, and the frozen Strawberries that were purchased, to can Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling.
Finally this past week the Jalapeno Pepper plants produced enough Peppers to can a batch of Cowboy Candy. I was lazy and skipped the final step, which involves jarring the strained peppers, then hard boiling the sryrup before adding it to the jars. This changes the consistency of the syrup. Attila’s taste test declared the results wonderful, so this short cut will be used going forward.
Some of the Serrano Peppers were ready, and that crop yielded three jars of Pickled Hot Peppers. Attila loves these, I do not.
More garden related projects are in the wings. The Tomatoes are beginning to ripen, slowly for now, as always at the beginning of the Tomato season. The daily harvest is not large enough for a batch of canning, so the tomatoes are being frozen whole until there are enough to fill enough jars to fill the canner. I steam can the tomatoes, adding citric acid to each jar to ensure adequate acidity. The steam canner came out in July, and ever since has sat on the burner on the stove, as it is used every few days at this time of year.
There is nothing so good as a Toasted Tomato Sandwich, made with homemade bread, and garden ripe tomatoes. For the last three days that has been my breakfast. It is oh so good with a wee bit of mayo, some thin slices of sweet onion, and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. My favourite tomato for sandwiches is the Beefsteak Tomato. This year the garden has a lot of different types of tomatoes growing, Beefsteak, San Marino, Cherry, two varieties of Roma, Health Kick, Purple Russian, and a few more volunteers of unknown variety. Once Tomato season gets going the canner will be in constant use.
Containers! We clean and save containers of all sorts. Over the last five years, since we moved to Mist Cottage, the container situation had reached serious proportions. To my complete surprise, as I began to sort through them over the past week, I found that I am attached to all these empty containers. The thought of discarding them was distressing, very distressing. How did this happen! For the last four or five days I found myself feeling melancholy over the surplus container situation, what to keep, what to send for recycling. I wanted to keep them all! Every day I would gather glass containers from corners of the basement, sort through them, and wonder if I would need them going forward. After all, most food containers are now plastic, glass containers are getting harder and harder to find. Once glass containers are sent to recycling, will we ever be able to replace them if we need to?
Yesterday I hit the wall, so to speak, in my glass container odyssey. I filled four huge recycling bags with clean, recycled glass containers, reducing the supply to four small boxes. The bags are out at the curb this morning, for the recycling crew to pick up. It had to be done.
But the container project is not complete. Now the clean recycled plastic containers must be sorted through, and more bags will be out on the curb in the weeks to come.
But for a bit of container anxiety, it has been a very good week.
Stay safe dear friends!
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Friday 28 August 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Dew point: 14.3°C
Wind: SSW 6 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“The Children’s Hour
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882
Note: These words are the primal cadence of my childhood. My Mother would recite this poem from memory, sitting at the quiet end of the day, at the top of the stairs in our farmhouse, her voice calming and soothing her five small children towards sleep as we lay in our beds.