Reflections of the season…

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Home of my heart and haven for my spirit…Early morning, sitting on the back porch wrapped in a wool shawl, out in the country, the aroma of fresh brewed cafe’ drifts out through the open window. The oven timer for my French Press brewing beeps so into the kitchen to pour a mug…hummmm, smells so rich…add a dollop of fresh cream. Back outside and wandering through the potager, as I do most mornings while sipping from my mug of steaming coffee, I look at what there is left to use for dinner. Surprised to see a new crop of salad greens big enough to pick…plenty of rain and just enough sun, nights are cool…perfect weather for fall greens to thrive! I find a few grape tomatoes hiding under the foliage from our wandering deer, a big red pepper and some squash that gets added to my basket filled with salad greens.

There is unspoiled quiet but for the comforting sounds of my chickens contentedly pecking and clucking their way through the garden…I have surrounded myself with things that make me happy. My home and garden feel like a big hug.

I simply adore the masses of lovely old roses in their fall flush of bloom covering the trellis as I walk through and around to the front of the house. Holly follows, looking back and hoping it’s time to take off for a walk down the lane. “Okay, give me a moment to get a sweater and more coffee and then we’ll go…” I tell her. She waits patiently on the gravel driveway for me to come out the door. Seeing me, she starts off towards the road, turning to see if I’m following her. Since she can’t bark, she does her woooowooo sounds, tosses her head towards her goal and runs ahead. Hearing the school bus heading down the road, I holler, “CAR!” and she immediately sits, waiting for the bus to leave and me to tell her it’s okay to go.

The glowing gold of an autumn morning and varied hues of the season’s palette await, a mug of fresh coffee, my comfy warm sweater, Holly trotting ahead sniffing every weed and bush…what could be better this morning, I think!

In a busy world, being able to hear the rustle and crunch of crisp leaves in the morning, the chirping of birds as a cool autumn breeze gently stirs through the trees is so perfectly imperfect.

Back to the house, having walked two miles this morning, we’ll do it again before dinner, before dark and putting the chickens to roost…time to do some garden work. There’s always raking leaves and gathering firewood to be done.

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Autumn opens as we finally see the departure of summer...this lively vibrant season of change is a prelude to winter. The air has a freshness that can only exist on a crisp October or November morning and is in harmony with the rich reds and golds of the countryside. The passion and fever of summer is spent and a sense of gathering and nesting before the garden slides into the dormancy of winter takes hold. Ever the optimist, I’m hoping fall will be the season to compensate for the weeks and weeks of rain, gray skies, heat and 90% humidity we’ve had during the summer.

By now the potager has an air of melancholy as tired vines yellow and wither with each cold night. Sunflowers have finally turned their browned heads to the soil in hopes that a few of their seeds will avoid detection by the birds and stay in the soil for reseeding in  the next spring season. Once everything has been harvested, I open the gate and let the chickens roam into the potager to scratch and peck. Once they abandon the potager for more exciting pursuits, I empty one of my compost bins and spread the nutritious material on the whole area…I close the gate to let the compost work without chicken help. By next spring all will be ready for me to begin feeding the soil and planting again.

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Flights of fancy…I never tire of watching the variety of birds fly into and flit about my garden exploring for tasty treats and enjoying the seeds from their feeders. Since earliest times, birds have captured the attention of humans offering inspiration and information for flight and sounds and weather. There is a great deal of weather “reading” from birds that can be found in books and almanacs. Farmers have always looked to birds and squirrels for a hint of the fierceness of the coming winter. Their  mysterious allure has been pondered by some of the greatest thinkers…DaVinci used his observations to sketch future flying machines, an ornithopter! In every season, every garden has its own excitement, a multitude of wondrous possibilities to watch and feed our feathered friends. NOTE: Remember to clean out nest boxes so small birds can roost in them over winter.

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Days are shorter, nights grow longer and temperatures drop…wrap yourself in the aromas of comforting soups, freshly baked breads, and roasting chicken. One of my favorite fall meals, aside from soup, is roast chicken with apples and pears. Simple to make: just cut 2 onions lengthwise and place in bottom of roasting pan; add a cup of Sauvigon Blanc and 1/2 cup apple cider or for a stronger jus, use Calvados. Rub the chicken with butter and slide more butter under the skin of breast meat. Sprinkle with salt. Place in 425′ oven and roast for an hour. Remove from oven, add 2 apples and 2 pears sliced and pitted to the pan around the chicken. Roast for at least 45 minutes till fruit is tender. Add more wine and Calvados as needed to keep moist.

Serve chicken on a platter with fruits and onions and some lemons to squeeze…pour pan drippings on platter. You’ll need fresh baguettes to sop up the juices. Add a fresh green salad of kale, spinach and walnuts to end the meal. Delightful food prepared in the heart of your home…

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One of the pleasures of growing older is the luxury of time spent wandering through the garden that often changes daily. I sit on a bench and let my mind appreciate all that I have accomplished…

From Holly, the Border Collie and me…enjoy your time!