Hints of Autumn
From the sunny dry west, we jump back into the high humidity and haze of the midwest. The wide endless skies of Wyoming and Nebraska seem to go on forever in my mind and now that I have returned to Goshen, I wake up at night, searching for that expansive space. Instead, I get up in the morning feeling like the sky is closing in on me. I think I know what a waterlogged sponge feels like: heavy, dripping with moisture, squishy. I concede to this midwestern weather; the dog days of summer are here.
There is good news, though, if I look for it. Back to my daily walk and run at OxBow Park, I see signs of change to come. The milkweed pods are mature and ready to open. The sumac puts out a red leaf here and there among its green. Grasses take on their late summer colours. And, when I stop and sniff, I smell the delicate sweetness in the air of plants giving their final bow, nature’s melancholy nod to the end of summer.
Despite the humidity, it’s time to start thinking about fall and winter. For us, that means canning season is in full swing. We hardly have a minute for our road trip to catch up with us and here we are, slicing pickles and jalapeños and onions, filling hot glass jars with hot, spicy, vinegary syrup, tightening lids and maneuvering the jars into boiling hot water for their bath. Once the pickles are out, there are peaches to work on.
Two full boxes of peaches sit on the dining room table. Their perfume lets me know that they are ready for canning. I sit then stand as I pit and peel them. Every now and then, I eat a slice and savor the sweetness of their juice. By the time I finish processing them, I have 42 pints. The kitchen counters are covered with sugary, sticky spots and I am drenched with sweat. As I look at the jars sitting on the butcher block, I remember what they will taste like once the weather turns to fall then winter. Today, I have just enough left to snack on and make a fresh peach pie.
Whether I recognize it or not, the year keeps rolling out the days, a never ending carpet for me to follow. So I take pleasure in noticing those small things that hint at the oncoming cooler season. By the time the first snowflake flits down, I will be ready with full pantry and full heart.