Sunday, September 22, 2013

happy fall - happy harvest

I'll tell you what I am loving.  I'm loving fall and I am loving the bounty of the harvest.  So many beautiful and delicious things; so much hard work followed by satisfaction of aching muscles as well as freezers and shelves filled with goodness to enjoy all winter long.
Happy Fall!
A few days ago you could officially feel it in the air.... that cool, crisp feeling underneath the day's warmth.  I love that feeling.  Today, however, is officially the day.
While we are waiting for God to work out housing and things for us, we are hard at work helping to "bring in the harvest".  This week Eric and I helped my uncle with his three pumpkin patches on his land.  Eric worked two days - the first one they cut the pumpkins off the vines and stacked them.  Day two I joined in by helping to load some of them pumpkins, and by clearing the gardens of many, many pumpkin vines (and other plants as well).
The job is not for the faint of heart.  It is some hard work, but man, it is a lot of fun.  Those vines are incredible!!  I was constantly amazing, while pulling them, how huge they were.  Twenty feet long, curled and twisted and intertwined.  Two of them even grew out of the patch and started growing up the surrounding trees.  And their supplementary roots - amazing.  Every foot or two the vine was securely fixed to the ground by little claws grown down to grab the soil.
My favorite part, besides just the plain love of doing some good, satisfying manual labour, was hearing the vines pop.  When you pull these hollow vines, they will break, of course.  But when they break, they make a cool echoey pop.  Eric thought I was a little strange, but hey - I was fascinated.
 The fields before and after, including the large pile of tossed vines at the back!
 It is a serious amount of work and both Eric and I were completely drenched with sweat.  Both of my shirts were sopping..... I don't just perspire.  I don't "glow".  I just plain sweat - and get a nice red face!  Lucky me.
For a little snack I had one of the very yummy apples off of my uncle's tree as well.  So good.  It makes me motivated for a few days from now when I will be picking dozens and dozens of little bitty apples from my mom's friend's yard.  Beautiful red, almost purple apples, to make some yummy, tart applesauce.  I'm pretty stinking excited!
My mom and I went to their yard two days ago to pick some tomatoes (already have billions of them which my mom cut up and put in the freezer) and potatoes.  They have a wonderful garden.  On their lawn were these beautiful mushrooms.  I don't know if they are edible, and they certainly aren't wanted on a nice lawn, but they really were so pretty.  Love the endless folds on the undersides.
 Yesterday morning my brother, nephew, niece, Mia, Cade, Lucy and I all went to pick grapes at my dad's.  One side of his house is full of concord grape vines.  And concord grapes means delicious jams and jellies - for the preservation room (movie credit to "National Treasure").

 There were pounds and pounds of them.  We picked until there was nothing left to pick.  Then Brent hauled them off to his house for us to set to work on them today.....  More on that later....
In the afternoon, while some golfing went on, my sister came to visit.  She, very patiently and tolerantly, both gave and endured massages with Lucy and our niece.  They set up a system where they were at first rubbing each other's feet.  Then they got more complicated and had Riley take turns massaging two sets of feet, while she got her feet massaged by Lucy and Jann rubbed Lucy's back.  Jann got the short end of the stick on that one, it seems!
 Back to the grapes.  So today began the washing, sorting, juicing and jellying.  The kids (who, save Cade), heartily and joyfully set into their task of pulling all the grapes off the stems after Glenda washed them.  I took on the weighing/measuring into batches.  Then the kids took turns mashing (before we headed over, Cade was very distraught to find out that we were not mashing them with our feet).

 Eric even got into the action.  Mindlessly mashing while watching the game on Slingbox.  
 We got four batches of jelly done and tomorrow I'll finish up probably three or four more.  Although one batch has to be redone as someone (all fingers pointing at me) forgot to add pectin to a batch..... Glenda called me this evening to ask about some stuff and exclaimed that a few of the jars were completely runny.  Ooops.  Hey - there was a lot going on, all right?!
Back at Grandma's, the kids took to the yard.  They are so excited to make a big ol' pile of leaves to jump into.  This is pretty new territory for them.  No fall for four years and fall in California is not quite the same - especially considering we didn't have any great leaf-dropping trees around us.

 Cade was even scraping up leaves from the dirt beside Grandma's place, to add to the pile.  The problem is that these leaves are a) obviously dirtier and b) full of twigs and other such items that make a leap into leaves not quite as comfortable.  He also thought it was easier to scrape up these leaves, put them on the deck and then sweep them off the deck into the pile, instead of just dumping them right onto the pile.  Okee-dokee.  Whatever tickles your fancy, buddy.

 He wasn't terribly happy with me taking pictures in the first place, and then got pretty darn mad when I was (softly) snickering at his, in my mind, questionable methods.  Yes, he did end up throwing this broom at me.  He didn't hit me and I'm pretty sure he didn't intend to.... but yes, it shouldn't have been done anyway.
Well, they do have a right-nice pile of leaves ready for them.  It was dinner time before they got to get to jumping, so the activity had to get postponed.  As I sit here typing, listening to the wind blowing the trees, I'm thinking they might just have a lot more work ahead of them before they take their first plunge.  But isn't the work worth it?

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