Hard to believe that it will be the equinox and Jim’s birthday in just a few hours. We have a pile of stuff to burn, so I suppose we’ll have a bonfire tonight. I had one last week because the pile had gotten unmanageable. I had pulled out the black bean vines and harvested the pods. So the vines needed to be burned, as there were plenty of sundry insect eggs deposited on the leaves. The patch did REALLY well this year. Bear in mind that it occupied the part of the bean bed not being used by the pole beans. In an area that was 4’x16′ I harvested almost ten pounds of black beans, once I had them shelled and dried. I think that is outstanding production. The cats thought the black beans in the shell were fascinating. Miss Mallory, being blind, checks everything out by sound and smell. The crate of bean pods sounded very very interesting, as I had to shove them down in it to get all the pods in there. As it rested in the kitchen, it made intriguing crackling and rustling noises. After I finished shelling the beans, I went out and dug the sweet potatoes. Those vines had gotten delusions of grandeur, were determined to take over the whole northwest section of the garden. They were well on their way to doing just that. They did not seem to mind me walking on them when I was headed out to pick the tomatoes, which are at the back of the picture. What you do not see in this shot is the fact that some of the vines had found their way under the fence and were on their way towards the neighbor’s yard. Thank goodness this is a non-hardy tropical plant, or we could be in danger of being covered with sweet potato vines the way Alabama is covered with kudzu. They look so pretty on the garden cart. That is 48.2 pounds of sweet potatoes. I have a similar quantity of butternut squash curing in the back bedroom. The freezers are packed with vegetables and fruit. I just made a liter of herb vinegar for salad dressing. I put up the last batch of sweet gherkins the other day. Anyway, the bonfire took care of the old cucumber and squash vines as well as the bean vines. While my back was turned, my dill self seeded. There is cilantro in this bed too, and the parsley plant just to the east of the dill has seeded the path next to it. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to plant parsley and have it not take. Then you have a plant to go seed and throw seeds into a bark mulch and not get watered all summer, and voila! Happy little parsley plants. Go figure. Jim has been gone for a couple of weeks, off to visit people on the East Coast and to attend a class in making Windsor chairs for little people. He got home yesterday, and it is REALLY great to have him back. He isn’t a very noisy guy, but the place is preternaturally quiet when he is gone. While he was gone I spent some quality time with the slide collection from my father’s house. Found some real gems that I will be sharing soon. These two shots are from around the same era in my life. The first is of me in my high school graduation gown and cap, sharing my diploma with Horace, my boa constrictor. The second one was taken in the Sierra foothills as we released Herman, the bull snake, into the wild. Yes, I kept snakes when I was a teenager. I guess that is what happens when you are born in the Year of the Serpent, as I was. The chairs Jim made arrived here just a couple of hours after he did. Here is a shot of the new little chair next to the Papa chair. The little chair still needs to be sanded and painted, but I think it looks beautiful. This is a chair that will be suitable for a child that is three or so, and will be useful to the young person until they start to shoot up around ten or eleven. After that, it can be used for seating for a teddy bear, and then a place to stash your coat and purse when you reach working age. I convinced him to invest in the bending form for this chair, because I would like to see a small cottage industry happen. When I suggested this to him over the phone, he pointed out that he had only been retired for two months, and I was already thinking of a job for him. Well, if one can make a little money doing something one loves, why not? This would be a great thing for a proud grand parent to give to a beloved little one. At $450, it is not inexpensive but destined to last for centuries. Fall is definitely here. The sumac is turning, as is the poison ivy. The Petite Prairie is looking fantastic in the evening light right now, as the tall grasses are making their seed heads. Stay warm. Hug someone you love, you never know how long you have with them.