Sunday, August 30, 2009

he's all mine

Yesterday had its moments. It was blustery, wet, and cool. If fall ever had a reason to sneak through a crack in the door—yesterday was it. I went into Manchester to do my laundry. On the way home I stopped at the Equinox Garden Center. I just wanted to buy a mum for my doorstep, but the center was a movie trailer for Autumn. The crisp wind, gray skies, and scarecrows flailing around the pumpkin patch were something out of a twisted Norman Rockwell painting. It was beautiful. Like a 6-year-old waiting up on Christmas Eve I was humming in anticipation for what's ahead. I drove back to the farm with two big orange mums in the back seat and a grin I could not hide. Annie hung out the passenger side window, catching raindrops in her open panting mouth.

When I got back to the farm I called Laurie. Laurie found my book, then the blog, and announced we were neighbors in yesterday's comments. Turned out she was meeting a goat breeder down the street to look at the kids she was buying soon. She said in an email she'd be down the road from me this afternoon. I told her to swing by when she was done visiting her new kids.

I knew nothing about this goat-breeder woman save for the one conversation we had last year. I was mushing the dogs on a cold winter evening and she was out feeding her horses. I pulled the dogs over to say hello, to share in the beauty of the snowy night. Rwo woman and their animals in the swirling whire. We had this singular exchange.

Hello there! I'm your neighbor up the road.

Are you the girl with all the animals?



That was it. I wasn't sure what it meant, but as the dogs and I hiked away into the snow I had a sense it was approval. For all I know she had a bet with another neighbor that I was the "girl with all the animals" and just won twenty bucks. But I'd like to think she felt a passing of the guard was happening right there on a snowy dirt road. That the experienced elder was giving the scrappy green horn a nod. A mutual understanding that the mountains here would still wake up to crows and cattle if people like me stuck around. Or, you know, twenty bucks.

Laurie, her husband, and kids came by for some coffee and a visit. She was kind enough to offer me a giant bag of gifts: squash, sweet corn, homemade jam, a hand-felted bookmark and get this...homemade vanilla extract. We talked about how we landed in New England. (She was a California native. Her husband, a Texan.) Her two charming kids were curious and polite the whole time. I think her daughter Clair had a special affinity for Jazz. I told you this blog has become quite interactive. People leaving comments in the morning are showing up for coffee later in the afternoon. Let's hear it for the internet, folks.

The late afternoon brought sunshine, genuine warm late summer sunshine. I went out to the garden to grab a few sprigs of basil and check on the pumpkins who are starting to get bigger than basketballs in some cases, but stay greenish. I suspect the bees cross pollinated them with the zucchini, making them giant green-hybrid orbs. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I made a pizza for dinner. Honey from vermont bees, yeast, and flour made the dough. The toppings came from my own tomatoes, onions and peppers. The cheese from the fine people up north in Cabot. The sauce was Ragu in a can. I'm not a purist. I'll catch up.

Today's looking to be a lazy Sunday. I woke up and lit the fireplace to bite off the morning chill. I fed all the animals and had the dogs out by 6:30 and then sat in front of the fire to knit and watch DVDs. My aspirations were few. I'm fighting back a cold, or something. Seems like everyone around here is coming down with the same symptoms. I feel tired and sore and a headache keeps haunting me. Farm chores and errands will be minimal and most of the day will be spent writing indoors, which is a shame when it's supposed to be a sunny 77 degrees before the night dips back into the low 50s. Tomorrow night they want it 40 degrees here. The hollow will be full of woodsmoke and that morning will call for flannel and insulated vests to carry hay around in: Two old friends I can't wait to meet again. I know Autumn belongs to everyone, but sometimes I can not help but pretend he's all mine.


Blogger Sarah said...

I'm here in northern Utah, and we've been having 40 and 50 degree nights too. I'm surprised my tomatoes are still alive. But this weather is making me anxious for autumn!
The living history farm nearby had cross-pollinated squash and pumpkins last year. They called them "squmpkins". :-D

August 30, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I love Fall. I got married last Fall, I have always loved it. Its Mother Nature at her best!!! All summer I have been cursing you under my breath (not really, just sound good) for inviting Fall so early. I wanted Summer to stick around for a few more drinks. I love Fall for every reason you do. BUT, I know what comes after....and I DONT LIKE IT!!!!! I want enough snow to make it nice, till after the holidays. Then I am really all set. This year we take up snow boarding, so maybe we will have a reason to ask for the flully white crap that I have no use for after the holidays.

Good luck with your pumpkins, I LOVE to grow them. My fav thing to grow. Have a great lil one keeps popping up with his daddy covered with dirt showing me what they picked from the garden. Not sure who is the lil kid, the boy or daddy. Either way they want momma out there with them!

August 30, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

I tried to grow pumpkins this year but it was so hot, one morning I visited them and they were healthy green plants and by that afternoon they were a crunchy brown. I was terribly disappointed. I didn't know a plant could die so dramatically.

Jenna, I know how you feel about fall being all yours. I was born in the fall and for years I have been the only person I know who adored fall like I do. I felt singular. (does that make sense?) It is only since reading your blog that I find others with my passion for all things autumn, but even so I have the sense that no one loves it quite the way I do. I'll bet each of us feels that way.

August 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

You know it's fall when one pays $18 for a pair of Alpaca socks. Nice and cozy! I still need to write about them in my blog.

August 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I spent 18 bucks at the yarn store yesterday on some merino/alpaca wool for a new cap...I completely understand Rachel.

August 30, 2009 at 10:29 AM  
OpenID localnourishment said...

I'm the only Fall Freak in my family, so around here, Fall is all mine. I totally understand the feeling. From the time I spot the first turning leaf to the last one that falls, every crisp morning belongs to me only. I find myself getting up earlier every morning to go have coffee on the patio and feel the air change. It's lovely.

As for homemade vanilla extract, it's too easy!! Buy organic beans, plunk 'em in alcohol of your choice (I've done brandy, rum, vodka and bourbon, I like rum best) and wait. 8 weeks later, say "Ta Da!" and dribble some in your coffee.

BTW, if you refill your vanilla bottle with liquor after each use, it's "never ending" vanilla!

August 30, 2009 at 10:36 AM  
OpenID dykestrasalgorithm said...

Yesterday I threw on a long-sleeved shirt and it wasn't uncomfortable! Today it's supposed to be back to 80, though.

August 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Actually, you're pumpkins should be ok this year - they tend to stay green for a long time. It's only if you save the seeds when cross-pollination may show in weird not true-to-seed offspring! I am looking forward to our fall, which doesn't really arrive until November/December. It'll be fun to live fall vicariously through your stories until then.

August 30, 2009 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Homemade vanilla? Now that is really over the top.

Here is my recipe for oven-roasted tomato pizza or spaghetti sauce. You can tell I am a very lazy slut.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Take a bunch of ripe tomatoes. It doesn't matter what kind. Probably two big mixing bowls full. Core and cut into quarters or halves if they are small. Throw them all into a bigass deep baking pan (10x15 or such). Throw in a handful of peeled carrots. Throw in a few cloves of peeled garlic and a small onion, peeled and quartered. Toss in a handful of fresh basil if you have some or dry if you don't, and some salt.

Put in the oven at 400-450. Bake until it cooks down and turns black in spots, at least a couple of hours. If you are ambitious, you can open the oven once or twice and stir it.

Take out and let cool. Buzz it in a food processor or blender (in a couple of batches if your processor is small like mine), or run it through a food mill.

This is the best easiest sauce ever IMO. No blanching and peeling tomatoes or any of that crap for me, thanks very much.

August 30, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Madame said...


I am seriously going to have to try that recipe - sounds delicious and is about as much effort as I like to do.

August 30, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Fall is most definitely here, or at least starting to show her beautiful face. This morning the thermometer read 44 degrees. I welcomed it with open arms. When I looked out my window at the glorious fall morning sun, I smiled a big smile. I'm ecstatic that fall is here. I'd be real interested trying to make homemade vanilla...sounds wonderful!

August 30, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
OpenID norcalrn said...

I wish Fall was here! We are having 100+ degree weather this weekend, and it's gross! I'm starting to think that New England has the weather and climate I'm after.... lol.

Enjoy your lazy Sunday Jenna, and hope you kick that cold before it hits you full blast!

Erica in San Jose

August 30, 2009 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

I think you oughta go buy some Sambucol at Ye Olde Health Foode Store and start taking it to keep the winter colds / flu away. As busy as you are, you need to stay healthy. I work in a labor hall---a good 1/4 of our folks are homeless and live either on the street or at the local Shelter. The germs in this place are virulent. I started taking Sambucol in about September of last year, and managed to avoid a single sniffle while those around me were dropping like flies.
A bonus? It TASTES good. Like pour-it-over-your-pancakes good. Howsome-ever it's expensive, so you prolly won't wanna do that. Give it a try.

August 31, 2009 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...


I fell woefully behind in my blog reading this summer, so I've just been reading a couple of your most recent posts this AM and . . . you exhaust me! Seriously, girl, HOW do you do it?

A full-time, "real" job AND maintaining a farmstead. Do you sleep? Are you one of those unique individuals with over-abundant energy? If so, please bottle some of that stuff and send it to me for Christmas!


August 31, 2009 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

SPeaking of avoiding colds and sniffles this fall, a cheaper method of doing the same is to make some elderberry syrup. The hardest part is picking the berries clean from the twigs! It, too, tastes good, helps avoid colds and flu's, or lessens the intensity of them if you feel them coming on, and is cheap! And it, too, tastes good on pancakes - or in a glass of white wine.


August 31, 2009 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Starting to smell like autumn here in SD. Of course, we've had 2 frosts here in the upper elevations to help that along. Been covering the garden alot! Finally pulled up the tomato plants & hung them in the shed & garage to ripen. Even without frost, they don't do much when it's 39 each night!

August 31, 2009 at 11:59 PM  

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