The last of the garden harvest is whimpering along. There are a few tiny cabbages to be eaten, a few Ground Cherries to ripen and bake into squares, and a few Tomatoes to process into sauce, refrigerate, and cook with. The nine ripe Squash, and three ripening Squash are curing in the basement. They will store well, and will be eaten one by one, through the winter months. Attila has containers of seeds spread all over the living room, which will be ready to package and file in a few weeks time. Slowly, counter space in the kitchen, and floor space in the living room, are reappearing out of the chaos.
In one sense harvest and preserving season are relaxing. Every morning presented itself with tasks for the day, well defined by nature itself. What was ripe or ready was harvested, brought into the kitchen, and presented itself to me, ready to be processed for long term storage. Attila didn’t have to plan what would be ready, it just happened. I didn’t have to plan what would be preserved, it just presented itself. The days rolled into weeks, the weeks rolled into months. June until October, the months were filled with activities that flowed from nature. There were days when I felt very, very tired by bedtime. But every day ended with a sense of accomplishment, and faith in purpose for the day to come.
Now that there are but dribs and drabs of harvested produce to cook, rather than preserve, the days seem a lot longer. The nuts and bolts of the transition to post-harvest activities have taken me somewhat by surprise. The clock ticks away on the wall, a sound unnoticed for the last five months. The morning sun falls gently into the living room, arriving later and leaving earlier every day. Now my days are not defined for me by the previous evening’s harvest. Now the impetus for projects lies entirely with me, beyond the necessities of the day such cooking dinner and doing dishes. I do know how to do this, how to plan my days. But this year it feels so very different than it has other years.
One of the differences is that there are no external activities to perform, such as going to the grocery store for supplies. I have been in almost total isolation for over eight months now, and suddenly I am aware of that. Another jarring factor is that Attila is back at work, full time, and although I am so thankful his health has returned to normal, his presence was enjoyed and therefore is now missed. The quiet of being alone during most of my waking hours is something I got used to when we moved to the Country House. But I am out of practice at the moment, so it still feels like something is missing. And the worry about Covid-19 in the workplace is always with us when Attila has to enter that crowded building, the elephant in the room. There is also the worry, about loved ones and friends being vulnerable to the virus.
Today a bit of income trickled into our bank account, for the first time since early September. The bills were lined up in prioritized sequence, and are being dealt with before penalties are triggered. We still have our hydro and our heat, nourishing if not fancy food to eat, and good health. I have my eye on the grocery stores for a turkey for Christmas dinner, an important tradition for us. We are doubtful that we will have a Christmas Tree this year, as they are not only quite expensive, but also require human interaction to acquire. We have a scraggly little 18 inch celophane tree, the one I decorated with the winter I was here alone. I will be baking all of our Christmas treats, which will be fun. We are looking forward to Gingerbread, Mincemeat Tarts, Steamed Pudding with Sauce, Shortbread Cookies, and yet to be decided upon goodies.
One of the projects I am embarking upon now is to catch up with my baking and cooking. For the last months I’ve been too busy to pay much mind to baking bread, preparing meals, and making sure the all-important snacks are at the ready. Near the end of harvest season a snack consisted of a handful of chocolate chips, not a good choice, but quick and ready. There is time and counter space now to bake Muffins, loaves of bread, and soon Naan bread. Casseroles and soups are on the menu again, as time for preparation is now available.
Another project that is being taken up again is organizing the basement. Every day I do little things for the cause. Yesterday I moved many objects out of the way near the south window in the basment, to setup a little table, where I placed the Kalanchoe that Attila potted from the front garden. I received this plant as a gift from Attila in the spring of 2018, and it has overwintered in the basement ever since.
I am eyeing the empty boxes stored in the basement, saved from decades of appliance purchases, as they are very bulky. I hate to get rid of them because they are such high quality boxes, able to hold a lot of weight, closing well. Some of the appliances, such as the dehydrator, are stored in their original boxes, which keeps them relatively clean when not in use. But some of the boxes will not be used to store the original contents, such as the vacuum cleaner. Attila hates all the boxes, and I don’t blame him, but I am still dithering about them.
The project of cleaning is beginning in earnest. The healing burn on my finger prevents me from doing too much in the way of cleaning, but I think by mid-November I’ll be back on track and ready to tackle some of the more challenging jobs. Anxious to begin, the range was tackled, removing knobs, elements, rings, and cleaning everything thoroughly. The range was in steady use all day, every day, throughout preserving season, so it needed attention. Today I removed the grill from the furnace cold air return, and thoroughly cleaned whatever surface I could reach in the duct. These kinds of cleaning projects are not really noticeable, but leave a feeling of shine and freshness.
I am currently avoiding the media, both commercial and social. The presidential election in the US is wrought with real drama, which needs no witness. The results are not yet decided. Balance is needed during these challenging times. Viewing scowling, shouting, angry faces, and clenched fists, guns, confrontations, and threats, is not going to enrich my life, or the lives of the people experiencing, or having to live around, runaway emotional outbursts. If I were a US citizen I would have voted. But as an outsider, I can only watch and wonder at all the hatred and drama, helpless to influence the truly awful state of affairs our neighbours to the south are experiencing.
Here the second wave of Covid-19 has begun. The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising steadily. It is concerning. Thus far the two family members we have lost to the virus lived in the US. I hope we do not lose anyone else.
As a senior I am still unable to get a flu shot, none available. I am not happy about this.
On a brighter note, we are going through a warm spell! Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny with a high of 18C. I love the sunny weather, so bright and cheerful, it always seems to put human affairs into perspective.
Date: 10:00 AM EST Thursday 5 November 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Dew point: 7.4°C
Wind: SSW 28 gust 38 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“I think there’s a god and I know it’s not me.”
Michael J. Fox
Mr. Fox’s statement covers a lot of ground.