Monday, September 25, 2006

Dance of the Bees

We must have a good couple of wild honeybee hives somewhere in the woods near our house, because the perennials out front are simply chock full of bees. There's hardly any real estate in the flower beds that doesn't have a bee on it. My daughter says with wonder "Mom, somewhere close to here, a bee must be doing a special dance just to show the others bees where our flower beds are. Isn't that amazing?"

Yes, it is.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Gleaning

We took a family bike ride on Sunday, a beautiful sunny day, bracketed by rain and drizzle. One of the local running trails goes through an old filbert orchard, and the ground is just covered with fallen hazelnuts. We picked up pounds and pounds of them. Now I just need to get a good nutcracker and we can spend winter nights by the fire cracking open some gorgeous Oregon hazelnuts.

Friday, September 15, 2006


My little corner of the world is fertile, abundant with fruits. They are just dripping off of trees and vines this time of year. Many are lying wasted on the ground, as busy people with fruit trees in their yards simply don't have the time to harvest and process this Autumn windfall. The squirrels, raccoons, and deer are getting plump and sleek as they boldly stroll around our neighborhood enjoying the smorgasbord. We had a good-sized buck in the back field yesterday, but I didn't get to my camera in time, and he wandered off into the woods.

I've made it a habit of politely inquiring of the people I see out and about if they mind if I pick their fruit from trees that are overflowing with it. Some trees around town even have signs giving permission from the owners ahead of time. The kids and I have also been hitting the neighborhood blackberry vines hard, right up until the first raindrop of Fall fell yesterday evening. So I've got 20+ quarts of blackberries in the freezer, and a kitchen full of apples and pears to process. Our housemate/renter has turned our plum tree into batches of double-boiled jam (a pectin-less recipe from Europe, he says).

It's amazing how much free food there is, just here for the taking around town. Which is a good thing, because last night that buck found the hole in our fence and helped himself to our garden!

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Sign Says It All

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Reaping What You Sow

Yes, it's that time of year. No, not time for massive Back To School ads, stocking up on notebooks, binders, and crayons, and catching the big yellow bus. It's harvest time. I think one has to be wary of new rituals. In looking back historically, any time a new ritual is put forth strongly by the powers that be, it's because it is meant to replace an old ritual, usually one that has value and worth to the people who practice it. Christmas and Easter quite susipciously fall on dates previously occupied by important pagan holidays, dates that basically have nothing whatsoever to do with Christ's birth or death. And the ritual of Back To School falls neatly on top of what used to be the harvest.

Does anyone remember when school actually started in the Fall? There was a reason for that. Kids helped out in the farm, or even just in the garden patch at home. Even when I was growing up (not so long ago, for your information!), many kids were working in the fields or off on hunting trips as the leaves began to fall. Not so anymore. Some kids in the U.S. have already been back at their desks since mid-August, is it any wonder that farm families are finding it hard to keep their children in the family farming tradition? The kids are pulled away from it starting in Kindergarten. As a nation and a culture, we have lost contact with the turning of the seasons, the yearly cycles of abundance and lack. Why bother? We have a grocery store just down the road.

Unschooling gives us the opportunity to revel in the abundance of the season. To pick blackberries all morning and eat corn on the cob right off our stalks for dinner, and yes, to pose as The Statue of Cucumber Liberty. We've got applesauce to brew up, plums to dry, and berries to freeze. Also of course, big empty beaches to visit, lakes to kayak, and campgrounds to occupy, now that they're blissfully quiet. And I hear that the huckleberries are just starting to come on at the coast...