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Archive for October 19th, 2009

Abundant harvest

Ever since the 5th of October when Gardening Gone Wild announced the subject of the October “Picture This” contest, I have been struggling to find the one image that cries out “Abundant Harvest” for my entry.  This required quite a lot of philosophizing and visualizing, trying to define the whole concept of abundant harvest.  I had lots of thoughts and ideas.  There were obvious ideas:   take a picture of the pints and pints of tomatoes and pickles and jellies and jams in the food room.  What about the freezer full of fruit and vegetables?  Turns out  I just don’t have the camera that can adequately capture the contents of my freezer or the food storage room.   The pile of 36 butternut squash along with the well over 50 pounds of sweet potatoes on the floor of the back bedroom just looks wrong due to its placement in front of the Library of Great Novels that also live back there.  I don’t have time to pose them better.

I thought about the huge “Mortgage Lifter” tomato I harvested last year, the picture I took with the ruler that indicated just how large it was.

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I just couldn’t decide that epitomized abundant harvest in all its aspects to me.

Then when I was harvesting my sweet potatoes, I came across a hidden bounty.  One of those tubers weighed SEVEN pounds, and it was just one of many tubers on the plant.  It wasn’t that photogenic, though.  And I couldn’t decide which of the shots I took that day got across the idea of “abundant” harvest the best.   So I made a whole post on the abundant sweet potato harvest , featuring pictures of the sweet potatoes in the garden along with a future abundant harvest of lettuces and stuff.

I was starting to have a very hard time deciding how to depict abundant harvest.

I contemplated this picture as a candidate for several days.

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I wasn’t just trying to capture the amazing quantity of sweet potatoes that came out of those two whiskey barrels that day.   There was an abundance of work encompassed in the background of the picture (the new stroll garden and the strawberry bed in the background).  I particularly appreciate that Ruby is in the shot, enjoying her abundant harvest of the femur of a steer we bought for her at the butcher’s.   She also represents the abundance of unconditional love that I receive from her and from other sources.  In the farthest background is the beautiful ripple stone bench I have because my son and husband harvested it for me out in the woods.   An abundant harvest of love is symbolized by that rock.

But I just didn’t know.

I thought about making a “bounty basket,” and I accumulated several collections of veggies during the weeks after the announcement of the contest.   Unfortunately, they were comprised of gnarled carrots (still sweet though) that I rescued from the tiny black ants who thought the carrot roots would make a convenient winter home, or tomatoes that were waiting through the cold rain for a warm day to finish ripening that had been chewed on by every casual passer by, or a wheelbarrow full of swiss chard we picked from the row I featured in a previous post .   We went out and harvested the whole patch of chard because we were under a freeze warning — the first hard freeze of the season.

The shots of the chard I got in the wheelbarrow turned out truly ugly.   The chard looked wilted, the wheelbarrow was dirty, there was all kinds of junk (an abundant harvest of sorts, I guess) in the background of the shot.   I gave up on the chard idea.

During the same time frame  that all of the above was going on, I harvested the black bean patch, dried the vines, and pulled the beanpods off the vines.   Then over a couple of quiet TV evenings, Jim and I shelled out the black beans.  I thought the beans might make a good subject.   Dried beans aren’t that photogenic either, being nothing like dewy fresh fruit or shiny colorful veggies or waving fields of grain.

Then I realized I couldn’t leave that chard outside in the wheelbarrow if it was going to freeze during the night or it would be spoiled.  It needed to come in the house.  I stood looking at the mass of chard squatting on my back porch.   Suddenly I thought of my bath tub.   The perfect container!    I hauled an armload of greens to the back bathroom, severely freaking out Smokey (our cat) as I trundled through the living room laden with chard.   I flung it into the tub, deployed the stopper and ran several gallons in on top of the rather sadly wilted greens.  I hauled the rest of the wheelbarrow load back there in a second trip.  A while later, I went back to check and make sure the tub was holding water, and all of a sudden I felt I was in the presence of the most whimsical presentation of an abundant harvest I had ever seen.

And so, I present to you my interpretation of “Abundant Harvest”:   A BATHTUB FULL OF CHARD

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That’s my entry.   The chard is in the freezer now.   There were 16 packages of greens and over a gallon of stems.   We’ll be enjoying it this winter, braised and in soup, thankful for all our abundant harvests.

Thanks to the Gardening Gone Wild folks for hosting this fun contest.

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There are a few of my readers who were privileged to read a blog post I entitled “Oy vey” before we all decided it needed to be deleted.   I have been scolded and reprimanded from all corners of the blogosphere, including my son, and I humbly admit that I needed to have my eyes opened a bit about the way the internet works and what is appropriate for a public forum.

It is my opinion that when my dear son receives his promotion to Sergeant (which will be happening in the very near future, no doubt), he will most definitely be a very good one.   Anyone who can scold their own mother so effectively should do well in a position where he has to scold baby soldiers under his command.

We have had a very great deal to handle in the past few weeks.  Jesse came home on leave and got married to his long time girlfriend, Rebecca.   We are extremely surprised, and yet not that surprised.  After all, they have known each other for years and years and they were even engaged previously.   We are still trying to catch our breath and wishing them the very best of luck.

At the same time all that was going on, the swine flu has swept through our county and so the massage business has slowed way down.  It will no doubt pick up again, but funds are limited at the Havens for the moment.  We are starting to count our pennies and thankful that the garden has produced so abundantly.   That has taken a lot of time too, as has the mowing chore which usually stops in August but did not this year.    Also, our very best friends moved to Costa Rica in the last couple of weeks, and so we have had to spend a lot of time drinking partying visiting with them to accumulate face time before they left.   Now they are in Costa Rica and everybody has Skype and so we spend more time talking now than we did before.   Now someone tell me, do I have to worry about what I say when I talk on Skype?   Am I being recorded?

On Saturday I went on a Naturalist led hike at Bennett Springs State Park.   We made the seven mile round trip journey to the Natural Tunnel, which is a stunning example of what happens in karst limestone regions when a cave system has the surrounding area eroded away from it.   This is the mouth of the tunnel.

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Stand inside and look out, and this is what you see.

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On the side of the wall of the tunnel near the entrance were many little solution pits.   One was occupied.

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That little bat needs to migrate south soon, he is not one of the species that winters over here, hibernating in caves.   We also saw a beautiful fly, disguised as a bee, enjoying the nectar lunch it found in a thistle.

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Not content to lazily ignore my garden for the entire week at the beginning of the month so that I could carouse and party with friends, I also ignored it this week due to the very wet and inclement weather.   After being cooped up for so long, the hike was definitely a sanity bringer.   But I compounded my laziness by going floating yesterday.    We ran from Steelman’s down to the campground, and while it was rather chilly the day was beautiful, and the fall colors were spectacular.

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We’ve had a substantial amount of rain lately, and the river was over its banks less than a week ago.   The brand new bridge across the river at Steelman’s access is already starting to show just how the power of water deals with the works of man.  Here we have the view over the edge showing how one channel under the bridge is already collecting a log jam.

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Look up at the top of the photo.   Here is a close up of how the river has lifted the asphalt off the bridge bed and jammed wood into it.   Couple of more floods and there will be no pavement on that bridge, the asphalt will all be on its way down to Bennett Springs and Tunnel Dam.  Notice also how the base of the guard rail has started to detach from the cement it is anchored to.  You can see stuff jammed under the second one to the left and the third one is exhibiting a gap big enough for light to shine through.

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When we stopped for lunch, a hungry white faced hornet showed up.   Since we had a couple of pretty cold nights Friday and Saturday, I’m pretty sure the end of life is near for it, but it wanted to eat my apple anyway.   After I tried unsuccessfully to shoo it off, I decided I could share my apple with the insect, just being sure that I didn’t accidentally try to eat him when it was my turn.   He feasted on apple juice, and then settled in on my hand for a grooming session.

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Farther down the river, we found a gravel bar that had a sand bed laid out on it, and the Society Column in the “newspaper” of sand held a lot of information about who is out and about.   We saw bobcat tracks:

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There is also a turkey track in the upper right corner of that shot.   There were fox and coyote, this is probably coyote.

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The following animal track we are not sure about.

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There was a lot of life out there on the river.  We saw several families of otters, a couple of grey herons, several kingfishers (one of which flew by us with a fish in his beak), a couple of red tailed hawks, turtles, and lots of migrating waterfowl.  In addition to the usual wood ducks, mallards and some teal, we also saw a flock of about 15 Harlequin ducks, who were far from their usual haunts (they are sea ducks).

In addition to gadding about last week, we also managed to get the beans I had drying in the sauna dressing room off the vines and shelled out.  We got five pounds of black beans.    I think it was a pretty impressive crop given that the bean patch was a bed 4 feet by 15 feet.   Five pounds of edible dried beans from 60 square feet sounds pretty darned good to me.   This was a trial shot for Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This photo contest on “Abundant Harvest”, taken when the shelling out job was about two thirds done.

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Well, I have plenty of things on my list, which did not stop growing while I was out socializing and emoting.   So I’d best get to it.

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