Does your cup overflowth? So my darling granddaughters Hannah and Ella are helping their daddy tap our silver maple trees for sap. Two large buckets made 2 small Kerr jars of our very own maple syrup. It is delicious! Luscious vanilla overtones with a gorgeous golden color … we lapped up fluffy buttermilk dollar pancakes with this maple syrup for a sweet treat the other evening. I need to learn the recipe from my son-in-law. Tell me about what trees you tap. I hear walnut trees can be tapped. Have you tried fresh walnut syrup?
ALL FOUR SEASONS
I met you in the autumn years of our lives.
We walked together in sunshine, wind, and rain.
We embraced the autumn colors, felt the crisp air, heard the music in the leaves.
A canvas to be completed sooner rather than later, a life to cycle through all four seasons.
You entered the winter years, though I not yet ready.
I with another stroll along a golden yellow, pumpkin orange, and burnt red lane.
You with another to touch snowflakes, lick icicles before the quiet hush of snowfall.
A blanket gray sky with woody cedars and small stone silhouettes.
In a slow-motion moment I witnessed your spring and summer years.
A beautiful blossom, the home nest welcomes sweet springtime.
Summertime love brought forth fruit twice, then eight times.
Your early autumn years, leaves on a tree trunk, your graduation cap atop long thick hair.
New roads on the horizon, friendships and love many a time, then sickness.
A life to cycle through all four seasons too quickly.
But now you are at peace and free to live forever.
Anna Marie Gall
in memory of Donald E Flood
Our weekends at the greenhouse include our 81-lbs labrador, Midnight since his adoption on Christmas Day. His long, lanky legs run after the bright orange bumper I have tossed in the brushy fields 10 or 20 times. About the time Midnight gets settled laying in the sun for some rest, the farm neighbor Leo pulls onto the field road down the hill near the barn in his jeep hollering and honking his horn to announce his arrival. This scene reminds me of this children’s book Sheep In A Jeep I read to my children and read now to my grandchildren.
Midnight knows Leo’s voice, and anticipates dog biscuits and a jolly greeting from our farm neighbor. Two or three dog biscuits are tossed out the jeep window, with Midnight perfecting his catch everytime. Beer is a part of this scene as well. Leo welcomes everyone with his can of Stagg beer in one hand and a offer from his supply in his other hand. What I remember about Stagg beer is my Grandpa and great-Uncle Lloyd’s abundant supply of this beer during the family gatherings at the Bates Family Farm in Beaufort, Missouri forty or fifty years ago. I wonder if my cousins have carried on the tradition? Stagg beer must be having a comeback, because in more recent years I have not seen it in the stores or at gatherings until Leo. Anyway, Budlight is one of Leo’s offerings, as well. I can do Budlight. It seems Boone Hollow Farm has produced more than fruit and vegetables. Best buds after bumpers, biscuits, and beer …
Robert Frost wrote a poem called “Mending Wall”.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
This poem says much, which can be condensed with the old Czech saying, “Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.” I would rather have friends than fences and walls, wouldn’t you? So much strife and bitterness amongst people, and the violence is horrible. Dean & I have a place we go where fences are not necessary, except clever ones to keep the deer out. It is Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri. It is where our greenhouse takes home. There are no fences or walls to divide the lots between tenants, we each just know where our own spot begins and ends. Even our dog, Midnight knows. Caring and sharing is the attitude, so refreshing. I anticipate a great growing season, growing herbs and vegetables as well as friendships in this community.
I have the craziest allergy that makes winter quite the challenge. I am allergic to the cold. Cold air, cold water … It makes the winter feel like colder than cold. I wear my “Ivana hat” (see my previous post “Winter’s Chill” about this), gloves, scarf, tights or pantyhose under my slacks or jeans, socks, boots, and layered coats. I need a ski mask to completely cover my face, just holes for my eyes and nostrils. I have been itching all day and puffy with hives this cold Monday. Construction is underway in my work building, so heat is limited. Space heaters have been provided, but the radiator heat is much more efficient. Benadryl makes me wiry and irritable, so I limit its usage to more severe swelling. And an epie pin is kept in an emergency bag in our 18-passenger van or with me when I go swimming or camping just in case. Yes, I have the angiodema as well as the hives, swelling from the inside out. The weather changed again on Saturday. I loved the sunshine and 60 degree temperatures all day Friday and Saturday morning, and then it turned on us late afternoon on Saturday. Ice and snow, and those wind chills! Yes, it is January in Missouri, but love those thawing days. Saturday morning Dean worked on the screen for the back side of the greenhouse and the back door header. And I put my seamstress skills into use by tacking nails in between Dean’s original nailing to make such a neat pattern like the brass studded french seam of a denim jacket or a pair of cowboy/cowgirl jeans. Have to make the plastic liner more secure, yet fashionable, don’t you think?! Only a woman’s touch! While we are preparing the outer wear for our plants, they are currently housed in two semi-heated, artificially lit 2-car garages. The warm comfort of their heated greenhouse is long gone, though spring is about 2 months away. The perennials are green, yet somewhat dormant. Trimming and propagating will take place in 4 weeks. Bed designs are being decided along with seeds being ordered this week for the herbs and veggies. In about 4 -6 weeks we will be sowing. Dormancy fools you. While we think nothing is going on; really, life is continuing and a blossom and fruit will appear soon enough.
Changes! Isn’t that a song? It is as the saying goes “here to stay!” This week my friend Molly from EarthDance Farms shared a few words about change in her newsletter. Farming wallows in change. Our greenhouse plans definitely have! Here is a link to that EarthDance Farm publication: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/463715/e828cdbee3/1696501412/351023b5d5/. We can chose to embrace change or fight against it, and I chose to embrace it. The autumn winds, modified greenhouse designs, the death of my father, and the holidays are followed with new housing arrangements for Dean & I. The desire for a different life brought my oldest daughter and her family to our household. We are sharing our modest 3-bedroom home with 2 more adults, 3 young children, and another black lab. My father’s lab “Midnight” who we adopted on Christmas Day loves all the companionship! An adjustment for my hubby and I, young children near our feet and squeals galore. It makes for creative date nights out for us previous “empty nesters”. Rachel and Mick have a plan, to save for their own 4-walls in the countryside where their chickens and lambs will meander nearby, and a garden big enough to feed themselves and Mick’s catering clients. Mick creates these fabulous meals which are on the healthy side now. I think his mother-in-law had some influence there! Shhh! Roasted two-beet salad with goat cheese crumbles … fresh, handmade pork tamales, and that leftover pork came from his New Year’s pig roast, all on our home kitchen’s menu! Yummy! Herbs used from Deanna Greens and Garden Art, and more to come this upcoming growing season. A new opportunity is just around the corner for my son-in-law chef. And faith plays a part in change. When we expect, it happens. God is not always in the door we open, but in the hallway as my artistic son, Ben mentioned on his FB page this week. And there is an opportunity waiting for my son as well. God embraces us wherever we are. What changes are you encountering right now? And what changes are you waiting for? Apply faith and good works. Remember the movie “Fields of Dreams”? Build it, and they will come!
Winter’s chill has come with the New Year here in Missouri. Brrrsy! A thin layer of snow, freezing rain, and more snow covered the church parking lot New Year’s Day. In 2012 I did not need my black faux fur Russian hat, but I pulled it from the coat closet this 1st week of 2013. Dean calls my head covering my “Ivana hat”. I think he likes the old world style on his bride! Warm, and protects my head and ears from the stinging air. Already this year it’s requiring drastic survival tactics! It was 10 degrees F in “Skunk Hollow”,according to the local 550 AM radio station yesterday morning. A woven scarf and gloves accompany. I have long locks (unlike the photo), yet not enough for 10 degrees F. For those quiet intimate nights with my hubby in order to keep the pets from snuggling in our bed requires closed bedroom doors. Don’t want to keep the dogs and cats outside or even in that garage for more than 5 minutes. I know, they are part of the family, and spoiled! So then, pajama bottoms with a long-sleeve night shirt is mandatory as well as the space heater next to the bed. The heated air from the furnace does not circulate as well with closed doors. All those clothes kind of defeat the purpose, but makes for great snuggling with my man. Marital union must take place in the winter months, as there are plenty of people born the months of September, October, and November, right? What about those folks up in Alaska, Norway, and Russia? Somehow, they reproduce! Cups of hot earl grey tea and chai lattes are on my winter survival list also. Oh, cannot forget the fire in the kitchen fireplace. Spicy hats, teas, and layered bed clothes add a spark to life, don’t they?!