We had our first chance at a frost last night. It came on a day of such autumnal sweetness that we couldn't bear to spend much of it indoors. We divided the day between attending to frost-prep chores and lazing on the hammock in sheer worship of the glorious weather that will soon be only a memory.
There were things to pick from the garden and an urgency about the harvest that surpassed even that of the summery days of glut. Eggplants, cherry tomatoes, chili peppers and cuttings of tender herbs came in. It was a tough call which to incorporate into our dinner. In the end we opted for the last of the tender sage leaves with a lovely winter luxury pumpkin given to me by one of the farmers at our local market. She claimed she couldn't sell it because the stem was missing, and added that the seed would breed true because the pumpkin patch was set back from all the other squashes. "My" farmers just rock. (And yes, I did buy some of the same pumpkins from her, with stems intact.) We dined on pumpkin-sage pasta, most welcome on an evening with a nip in the air.
But before that there were bed sheets and row covers to excavate from the shed. I chose the basil to cover up with the bed sheet, reckoning it the most tender of our herbs. The sage still looks green, but the older leaves have already started to toughen up, so it lost out. The peppers and eggplant each got a row cover cloth laid over it, though the plants are so large that we couldn't make the cover reach the earth on both sides. We did what we could for them and wished them the best. I rummaged around in the garage until I found the storm windows that fit our two cold frames, and laid them over the frames just as they slipped into shade.
I watched from the hammock as the last sunlight to reach our garden played over our sole remaining colony of honey bees. The golden ladies were illuminated by the slanting light as they winged homeward from their last foraging flights of the day. The cats came and threw themselves down under my suspended body. It was a good feeling to lie on the hammock and look at my homestead. There are so many things yet to be done here. But I felt I had earned a moment of luxurious idleness on a glorious afternoon. And I could see the beauty my hands had created all around me. The lovely honey bee commute ended just as the last sunbeam winked away from our yard.
Then it was time to bring in the potted rosemary, lemon grass, and our lemon and lime trees. The living room now looks a bit like a nursery. We'll see whether I have any luck keeping the rosemary alive through the winter this year. I'm hoping to use it on many loaves of focaccia all through the baking season.
I woke this morning to find the temperature two degrees cooler than predicted, but no frost. It feels like a lottery win to have dodged this first brush with winter, and if the forecast is remotely accurate, we have at least another five frost-free nights ahead. The plants we pulled indoors will stay inside till warm weather returns in spring. I don't fancy moving them again any time soon.
This will probably be the most gorgeous weekend of the whole year. Two days of clear skies, light breezes, and temperatures in the low 70s. Autumn is just too short.
On the Back Porch of America
2 hours ago