On the balance of the equinox

P1010241In about a month, I might actually be able to find the paths in the garden again, too (butternut squash, beans, and grapes at the top)

Happy September equinox, everyone.

Depending on your hemisphere, this means it’s either the first full day of spring or the first full day of autumn for us all.  Fall, in the days before my greenhouses, was a point on the calendar where I felt the most mortally vulnerable.  Ack!  All my plants are winding down and dying on me, I would think…and I am of course winding down too!  But, now that I am a year-round gardener, the end of one thing simply means the beginning of another.  Bye-bye tomatoes, hello turnips.  Hello, escarole; see you next year, peppers.  And look at the promise of all those little seedlings!

What I need to remind myself is that the beginning of fall is not the end of something, it’s the balance of the calendar.  Equal day and night and all that, no extremes, just a slow slide into darker days, a slow fade from the time of doing outdoor chores in the light-filled 10:00 evenings.  And darker days mean more time with the oven turned on, as I am more inclined to bake and roast and make pots of stew, cure and smoke meats, and, of course, take care of the bounty that is Apple Season.

I do adore the smell of autumn, though:  the high sweetness of the ripe grapes and apples, the fecund mustiness of fallen leaves, the acrid whiff of burning leaves and woodsmoke.  It might not hold the verdant promise of spring within its scents but it does hold its own promise:  a bountiful Harvest, and thanksgiving.

Can’t you just smell the applesauce bubbling on the stove?

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11 responses to “On the balance of the equinox

  1. Reading this was a perfect “good morning” this morning. It’s always a pleasure to read your blog!

    Off topic, do you have laying hens and meat birds? Do you winter any meat birds?

    • Hi Jennifer, funny: I am working on a post about all the chickens. Short answer, I have both laying and meat birds. And some birds that are neither. Our plan is to be self-sufficient in chickens (be they eggs or meat) so this year we got roosters of the egg, meat and bantam persuasion. All of a sudden, this is a noisy place!

  2. Well, as we age I suppose wondering about our autumns is natural. But I am strongly looking forward to my fall garden!

  3. Oh spring! It started early this year. Lulled into the blossoms and scents, I was until…….On the day on the equinox we had extreme wind and dust storms. The dust was from drought areas to the west and the desert even further away. Between 4000-16000 tonnes of top soil being blown away and across the eastern seaboard per hour. The sky had an eerie red ochre glow. Sunny and clear today but everything is covered in red dust. Extraordinary!

    I do love that point at which summer yields to autumn, when the general vegetable chaos/abundance makes it’s last hurrah before the next round of things like garlic go in. Oh and the reprieve from the heat….always welcome.

  4. mmmm…I love the feeling of fall, the excitement of preserving, of finding new things to try. I’m going to try rosehip jam for the first time. I’ll gather the rosehips at the beach and make jam tomorrow. I found a recipe on line–complete with warning of “itchy bottom disease” if I’m not prudent when removing the seeds and irritating hairs– ha ha! I’ll be sure to be thorough.

    What are other people making from natures bounty, that of the free kind you find in the woods, at the beach or on the side of the road?

    And, no–that isn’t apple sauce I smell, its apple pie in the oven tonight!

  5. Happy autumn to you El 🙂 I love the tastes and colors of autumn, but its the upcoming cold that seems to bring my enjoyment down. Sigh. But that applesauce and sweet butternut squash makes up for a lot – especially when paired! I’m actually about to dive into a breakfast of applesauce along with some sliced apples and honey… we have a happy bounty of them!

  6. I don’t feel as vulnerable in Fall, it’s more of….the end is in sight! 🙂

    You have to love a hobby/obsession that makes you actually look forward to wintertime. Actually it kind of makes you savor all the seasons a little more.

    And the smell at my house last night was pear butter!

  7. Wow, look at all those grape vines! I’ll have to look and see what you do with yours as we may actually have a few this year…finally.

    It’s funny how many people put their gardens to bed for the winter, I know I used to as well until I read Eliot Coleman’s book quite a few years back and that changed everything. Now, as with you, fall is just a turning point in the growing season for us.

    I want my isle ways back too!

  8. Stef, great! Looking forward to what you’ll pull out of yours. Make sure you document it as you have all those new beds now.

    Oh Nada I was thinking of you. Our news did show lots of red clouds over Sydney, how spooky, and how sad. I read a memoir about growing up Aussie by a woman who eventually became the head of a college here: rather stellar book about being on a sheep farm in NSW and all the damage that kind of “farming” does, it’s called The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway…so the image is kind of stuck in my mind about drought and all that.

    Liz, rose hip jam! I have a lot I might harvest too. So many jams so little time and all that. I do have a couple of foraging topics I would like to discuss; before the snow flies I am harvesting a lot of herbs for winter teas etc. Have fun with your harvest, and…pie, yum~

    MC, I adore any and all apples, and squash, well, we BETTER like it as it’s a crazy year for them here. Happy fall, and don’t worry about the winter 😉

    Sara, pear butter, yum! I do know what you mean about needing a break, but honestly doing it this way means there’s less pressure on me the rest of the year of a do-or-die nature (as in, there’s time yet to plant/harvest). I just have to tell myself that’s the way it is when I feel overwhelmed though! Happy harvest.

    No turning back, Mike! And yes, we have almost an acre of grapes YIKES and this is a good year! l’ll let you know

    You too Linda!

  9. Oh, how I miss a real autumn. I’d give my left tit for one.

    I’ve followed your example on what happens when things go to seed, and as a result have more broccoli seedlings than I know what to do with!

    Autumn here in Texas, of course, means broccoli and peas, and short-season tomatoes if I’m lucky.

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