Gourds and Pumpkins

moon phase Week of 10/23/2005 Best days for planting root crops.

I guess I've always been an early riser. As far back as I can remember, there was always a reason to be up at sunrise. As a boy, I always had chores to do before school. It's been a long time since I went to the barn just after getting out of bed, but today I still have chores to do. I remember those cold, dark winter mornings, when I'd step out the back door, still half asleep. The frozen air would take my breath away, and snap me back into reality.

Gourds and Pumpkins

When I stepped outside to get some firewood just before sunup, I was shocked to see that everything was covered in white. Around here we call it the S word. Oh, it would be alright to say the word snow now, I suppose, but not after it's been dumping on us for two weeks. Those dumps don't come around much any more, which is just fine for those who don't like to drive on it.

This morning it was just a dusting. A light rain came and in an hour, the snow was all gone. There was enough to track a cat, but most folks never saw it.

The gourds looked so pretty that I just had to try and put them down on paper. So many shapes and colors, with lots of options for bird houses. They've been spread out in the grass to cure in the sun. When the stems are dry, I'll hang them in the shed to freeze. By spring they'll be dry enough to use, but their lovely summer colors will be replaced by beige and browns.

The pumpkin I will use much sooner. In fact, I carved one into a jack-o-lantern this afternoon, and placed the large seeds on the wood stove to dry. They will make a tasty snack while I'm at the drawing table.

It was a rather blustery day, threatening rain and overcast skies, with a brisk breeze that scattered orange and yellow leaves across the valley. Weather wise, it's been a very nice fall, in spite of the severe weather elsewhere around the world. (I can't remember a time when so many natural disasters have come one after the other. It makes me wonder if mother nature is sending a warning that we are too rough with her.

A good friend stopped by to pay a visit today, and brought me a peck of crisp, juicy apples. He's an apple picker in the fall—a job that many of us out here have done. It's an opportunity to make some extra money while spending quality time in one of the many beautiful apple orchards of the Kickapoo Valley. The apples are a special treat, and I'll try to make them last, but it won't be easy. You know what they say about an apple a day. Unfortunately, spring is more than a peck of apples away.

There is still lots of work to be done outside in the gardens, and with luck there will be some nice weather yet to come. A week or two of Indian summer would be very welcome, but you never know what the season will bring. I'll just take it as it comes, rain, snow or sunshine.

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