Letter from Birdland: Harvest moon signals onset of fall

Letter from Birdland: Harvest moon signals onset of fall

In Birdland we finally got some rain last night. Not much, mind you, but some. I think it was about half an inch.

The thirsty ground was finally damp, and the red cabbage leaf cupped a tiny puddle.

But I found dry crumbs of earth beneath the yew bushes next to the kitchen door. Still, we are grateful for any moisture.

A few days ago I picked the last of the peaches, and late last night I peeled them to freeze for pies. It was only a few, not even a full pint, so maybe I will use it for fresh peach ice cream instead of pie. Now I can turn back to the pears and apples.

The summer's drought made the garden slow, and now it has started its decline:

— I picked the last two cucumbers from wilting vines, and the summer squash has gone the same way.

— I pick a few tomatoes every other day.

— The two brave red cabbage plants have yet to form a head, but now as other parts of the little garden die back, they finally look like they want to.

— The two eggplants I put in very late each have one small fruit, shining like a dark jewel, a black pearl on a pendant.

— Chard peeps out from beneath the fading squash plants, and maybe with more sun now it will make a comeback.

—The only green we still have in abundance is arugula, and, though it has bolted, I still pick the greens to stir-fry.

Last night we had it on pizza. It's still good on salads, too, which brings me to the herb garden — which is another story. It's in the full sun, not shaded with Jerusalem artichoke like the kitchen garden in the garden coop.

All the herbs did quite well all summer, as soon as the chickens learned to stop scratching them up.

My favorite salad, now that we're down to our last small bowl of marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, is one-third lettuce, one-third arugula, and one-third herbs of whatever variety I'm in the mood for.

The first time I made it I thought I had gone overboard on the basil, (not for me, mind you, because I love basil, but for others).

Ellis tasted it and said, "That's a powerful salad!"

I asked my youngest whether that meant he liked it or not, and he said, "It's good, it's just ... powerful."

That's when I decided that when I open my restaurant, "Ellis' Powerful Salad" will be on the menu.

It's autumn already, and I did little to mark the equinox, which is not like me. I love celebrating all the corners of the year, but this year I feel like all the piles in my life are looming over me, threatening to collapse.

Maybe it's time for a rid-out. I've been thinking of ridding out my closet before all the clothes I don't wear burst the hinges, but every time I think of it, it seems overwhelming.

And how many other areas of my life are overstuffed? I'll need to stop and take a breather and evaluate some of these piles before they evaluate me.

Even though I barely noticed the equinox I did see the harvest moon, rising lovely and bright orange over the woods, just like a lit up pumpkin. I called my friend Paula in town to tell her. She said she would have to walk outside to see it, and I promised her the walk would be worth it. I don't know how far she needed to walk to get a view of it over the houses and city trees. I hope not far because only a very few minutes later I went to look again and it had cleared the red part of the atmosphere, now still lovely and bright and round, but its old milky self, like we can see on any clear night of the full moon.

I really wanted her to see the "pumpkin moon."

Rise in beauty; shine in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in the intersection of astronomical cycles and biological cycles. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdlandgmail.com.

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