It seems the heat waves are finally subsiding for the summer season, they ended just as the summer came to a close. Here we are in autumn. Yesterday was the first all-day rain we have had in 2021. This kind of rain was common when I was a child, and a young woman. There is a certain feeling that comes with relentless but gentle rain, a hush, an offering of peace from the heavens. I associate the feeling with my Granny and Grandpa’s house, where there were few electric devices running, so one could hear the rain on the roof, pattering against the windows, dripping from the roof line. It meant a day spent indoors, tucked away for the day in the arms of the creaking old house, in the energy that my Grandparents emanated and infused into their environment. With good reason I and my siblings loved to be there. All-day rain has a special feeling.
We took a whirlwind trip to the Camp last week, to bring home the bedding and the food stored in Grace the trailer. There were a few mice in the trap, it is that time of year, when they are seeking winter shelter and building nests. Perhaps one day we will seal off the undercarriage to bar their entry, but for now we wage a constant competition for Grace’s space.
It has been a few years since I have trekked the bush around our Camp clearing, so I decided to give it a go, and see how it went. Attila and I walked about a quarter of a mile through some pretty rough bush, scrambling over fallen tree trunks, up steep rock outcrops, into and out of gullies. It was a successful expedition. I was very tired by the time the road was spotted off in the distance. The last little distance to reach the road involved a steep slope. A small tree offered a handhold to navigate, but being tired, I misjudged it’s suitability, and it failed me. I tumbled down the slope, landing hard on the gravel road below. I haven’t fallen for years! More surprised than injured, I lay on my side for a minute or two, to gather my wits about me, then took Attila’s offered hand, and slowly rose to my feet. I checked myself out thoroughly, no broken bones. The elbow took the brunt of the impact, followed by the knee and the hip. Attila seemed impressed by the fall, telling me that I tucked and rolled quite effectively. I grew up wandering in the bush, taking many unexpected tumbles, so I guess I haven’t lost the knack of falling. I expected bruising, but it has been minimal. I expected stiffness, it has been slight. The worst of it was a skinned elbow. I am glad I went on the walk, and I will now have to remember that I am not a kid, and that when I am tiring I cannot perform the feats of balance and agility enjoyed during youth.
On our hike we crossed an area where years ago someone had come through the wetland with an ATV and left tracks in the soft soil. Erosion has now deepened that rut into a small gully, about four feet deep. It is such a shame that people use motorized vehicles to destroy the landscape, in particular ATVs, the curse of the forest and wetlands.
The garden harvest continues, consisting primarily of Peppers, Beans, and Tomatoes. The Parsley harvest is quite abundant, and a good Celery and Cabbage crops are anticipated later in the season. As the canning jars are filled, they are also being emptied. The food that is preserved is a significant part of our daily diet. As always, container management looms large in this cycle. Images of pantries with rows of canned foods are enticing, but where and how do the empty jars and equipment get stored. There is more to food preservation than the canning/dehydrating/freezing activities. All that food has to be stored, and the containers and equipment have to be stored and managed.
At Mist Cottage empty jars end up on shelves in the basement. When a jar is empty and washed and dried, the ring if screwed on to protect it from chipping, and it eventually ends up upside down in it’s original box, in the basement. Instead of taking multiple trips to the basement with empty jars, or letting them accumulate and clutter up the limited counter space, they are stored in plastic jar boxes on a bottom shelf. When the jar box is full it is carried to the basement, then the jars are transferred to their original boxes, placed upside down to keep the dust out. When it is time to fill them again, up comes the original jar box full of empty jars, they are washed and dried and set out for the canning session.
Another heavily used container is the plastic bag. Plastic bags saved from purchased commercial foods are washed, and dried, and used until they have either developed small holes, or the ink on them has deteriorated to become sticky. The bags are washed with the dishes, rinsed, hung upside down on the clothesline to drip, then flipped and pinned to the clothesline so as to air dry the interior of the bags. The clothesline on the porch is usually displaying a collection of various sized bags fluttering in the breeze as they dry. During the winter they are dried on the clothes drying rack inside the house.
Mist Cottage is a working cottage, cluttered with the abundance of the garden, and the containers and equipment used to preserve that abundance for the winter months, to cook every meal from scratch, and to mill our own flours. Interior design has taken a back seat to ten years of renovation The interior design involves using the big house furniture to its best advantage in a very small space, and making sure there are clear paths to essential work stations, the washroom, and the sleeping area. It isn’t pretty in here, or optimally furnished for its purpose, but we manage. Luckily, during harvest season, when Mist Cottage is at the peak of chaos for the year, we are too darned busy to notice aesthetics. Usually the goal has been to get the interior living space as decluttered as it can get before Christmas, a goal that is not always attained. Last year we had no room for a Christmas Tree, but this year I am determined we will have one!
The season has changed, and for the last few days I’ve felt a bit off-track with the transition. I think too, this feeling is related to being isolated for over a year and half, which will not change any time soon as we are experiencing a fourth wave of Covid-19. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, isolation is how it has been hard on me. Working in a dangerous environment with opinionated and angry people is how it has been hard on Attila. There are other difficult scenarios, but these are ours. I do very well with my challenges, but every so often a bit of reorientation is needed to get back on track. The last few days have been my time to reassess, and reorient. Not easy, but all part of life’s work.
Today I am baking bread, and since there is a lull in preserving, I’ll be sweeping through the work stations to put some things away, and organize other things for the next canning/dehydrating/freezing sessions. And I think too, that I’ll sit in my chair and listen to the rain fall.
Stay safe dear friends!
Date: 8:15 AM EDT Thursday 23 September 2021
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Dew point: 18.1°C
Wind: SE 26 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
1872 – 1970