Over the Threshold

The days are hovering at just twelve hours of light now, and the sun has slid past the bright spill of midsummer into the old gold of autumn. It’s time to roll the season, friends.

Frost-touched Golden Bantam sweet corn stalks in the market garden, set against the dark of the muskeg spruce

At the farm, this is the season of quiet, constant work. We’ve both returned to our teaching jobs for the school year, and the farming now happens in evenings, weekends, holidays. We’re no different from all the generations of farmers who worked an off-farm job at the same time they were out on the land. It’s the presence of a ceiling overhead that signals the season for us, and the good energy of new classes, as much as the sound of the geese and cranes fleeing south again.

The newly filled pond by the cabin, almost too deep for the moose now

With the shift toward autumn, we’re moving toward the end of certain projects for the season. The pond that we worked on all last summer and began landscaping this spring is now more than half full from our mad summer rains. It’s a soft, beautiful presence on the farm with the changing trees reflecting in its surface and migrating birds stopping down to drink.

Part of the honey harvest from our steadily growing apiary

We robbed the hives a short time ago, making sure to leave plenty of winter stores for the bees, and also feeding them up with extra sugar water to get them as ready as possible for the long, cold winter. And it looks as though it means to be long and cold – our first frost was in late August, and now the mornings begin with the crisp sheen of ice on the grass. Everything has been harvested from the market garden now except for the winter leeks, the black kale, and the carrots; we keep them in against the frost until their sugars turn them so sweet, they’re practically vegetable candy. Heavenly.

In the meantime, the kitchen is a mess of canning jars, beeswax for candlemaking that needs to be washed free of remaining honey, herbs drying, and winter squash curing. We love the seasonal mess and productivity, but we’re also pleased as punch to see the jars filled and lined up on the shelves against the cold months.

Lanterns at dusk in the memory garden

And it’s the season of light – how it ages, how reluctant we are to see it go. In the early dusk, we visit the forest memory garden by the cabin and light lanterns for meditation. Small votive flames burn long enough for us to take out memories, turn them over, and set them carefully down again in such a way that they don’t pull quite so hard. Memories, like gardens, need tending.

Here’s to going into the dark season with the fullness of summer behind us, friends, and still enough light to see the path by.

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