Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The End [of Summer] is Near!

yellow tomatoes and basil
more tomatoes, and jalapenos to stuff
Apparently, Ray and I are prepping for the End Times.

This thought occurs to me as I look over some of the un-done chores on today’s to-do list (lesson-planning and grading are a given on EVERY list, so I never need to write them down):

(1) find space for another 14 quarts of canned tomatoes in the pantry;
butterflies are stocking up, too
(2) inventory and rearrange items in two freezers (one small chest freezer is full to the brim with parrot food and gooseberries), to see if we need a third small freezer for the 50 lbs. of local grass-fed beef we’re picking up this weekend;
(3) roast a bucket of Roma tomatoes and blend them into sauce for the freezer (see #2); and

Just in time for my first enormous pile of papers to grade, our garden is easing up. The cuke vines are dying back, and the acorn squash is hardening. There are still plenty of tomatoes out there, and today’s high 80’s should help them ripen. I’ve already put up enough pesto and basil cubes ( to supply the Upper Midwest for the winter, but it keeps coming, so I’ll have to dry some this weekend. I hope to get one more big meal of cream cheese and venison stuffed jalapenos before the peppers are done. And the guy with the amazing grass-fed lamb will be at the farmer’s market tomorrow—what’s a crazy [food] prepper girl to do?

we'll soon be knee-deep in these
roasted veggies to blend into sauce
Except for a brief warm up today, the weather here at the Row has been coolish and damp, in the 60’s. Soybean fields are yellowing, the apples are ripe, and our honey locust tree is a gorgeous disaster of a bajillion pods. These subtle signals trigger obsessive gathering and “putting by” here on the SoDakian tundra, because there’s only one thing prairie folk truly trust, and that’s a full larder. By the time we get our first whiff of autumn—a mixture of late-lingering dew, turned earth from a farmer’s early harvest, smoke from someone’s first wood-stove fire, and a delicious hint of decay—we’re already tacking plastic on the windows. We’re stockpiling canned tomatoes and Colorado peaches, Trader Joe’s mixed nuts, CafĂ© Altura Italian Roast beans, crossword puzzles, longjohns, and good toilet paper. We’re hanging the down jackets on the line to air.

It’s survival, plain & simple. These signs of brief, beautiful autumn remind us that we’ve been living in the Happy Bubble since last May. But it can’t last. Winter is just out of sight, waiting, with his pointy little icicle.

pickled whatever's-still-growing
we could live on peaches
Ray & I aren’t prepping to the point where we’re putting up rooftop sniper perches or razor wire, but I WILL rearrange the venison and coffee beans in the freezer today. And we’ll need a few more wool hats and fingerless gloves in the 30-gallon Rubbermaid tub o’ knitted outerwear.  And maybe I’ll haul some wood up to the back porch. But right now, while the low-carb venison chili is simmering in the crockpot, I’ll take a nap. Because if the End Times are coming, I need to rest up.