It might start with something really innocuous—you make two lasagnas instead of one, and you freeze the extra “in case of company.” Or, you impulse-buy 5 lbs. of steel cut oats at the food co-op. You order three bottles of high-potency Vitamin D. Then, before you’re really aware of it, things ramp up—you freeze 12 ice cube trays of pesto; you buy lugs of peaches and spend a long, messy day making and canning jam; you can 60 quarts of every conceivable tomato product—roasted tomato and veggie sauce, raw-pack tomatoes, whole roasted Romas and Sunsweet cherries; you dehydrate a gallon bag of basil. You’ve turned your home into an industrial kitchen, and you might be speaking a little street Italian under your breath.
But wait. You’re also freezer-stashing gifts: loaves of lemon poppyseed bread, apple pies, birthday cheesecakes, chocolate chip cookies, Chubby Chipmunk truffles. When you open the freezer door to find room for another 4 loaves of zucchini bread your brilliant baker friend brought over, you notice 1 lb bags of Vietnamese cinnamon and ground cardamom, a 12-pack of 6” unscented beeswax candles, bags of holy basil and minced onion flakes, and 5 lb each of regular and decaf Café Altura coffee beans. Who the heck ordered all this stuff? Oh wait…YOU did.
|Winter chili, spaghetti, shrimp creole...|
|Peppers the size of a quart jar.|
|Peach preserves for winter toast.|
|Stocking the larder.|
If you read literature set in the 1800’s on the prairie (I highly recommend a short story called “Winter” by Kit Reed), you’ll discover the hereditary, maybe genetic, origins of September Squirreling: As Jon Snow says, winter is coming. Every hardy plains dweller worth her salt (Note to Self: Order 5 lbs of Celtic salt ASAP) knows you need to STOCK THE LARDER NOW!! You’ll need provisions for when the snow is piled higher than your doors & windows, cutting off all light and your access to the outside world.
Nevermind that you live in town, in the 21st century, where the city plows keep your streets clear all winter, and that your snowblower gives you unfettered access to everything year-round, 24/7. Nevermind that you can have curbside delivery of groceries, hardware, lumber, or anything Walmart sells, all winter long. Nevermind. Because you’re really just a higher-order squirrel, burying nuts and seeds in the yard. “Putting by” is in your pioneer, homesteader DNA.
So today, in early September when the high will be 88, I’ll be divvying up 20 lb bags of canary and parrot food into gallon bags for the freezer, so we’ll have plenty of avian antics for entertainment during “the dark time.” And if I make waaaaay too much goulash for dinner, well, I know what to do with the leftovers.