Ode To August

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I know this is a random question, but have you ever held a metal flashlight in your teeth for an extended period of time?

(Don’t judge, some of us don’t have headlamps).

It isn’t too bad at first. A little uncomfortable, maybe — but not too bad. Give it 5 or 10 minutes, however, and things start to get a little interesting

I think the first thing you’ll notice is the sensation that your teeth are slowly being ground away by the rough metal grip. Then, a minute or two later, the muscles in your jaw start to tighten and cramp. And then, for some inexplicable reason, your mouth starts to water — and you’re faced with a tough decision: do you close your mouth around the flashlight and suck on it like a nasty, metalic popsicle, or do you just let the drool dribble down your chin?

As for me, I usually end up drooling.

That’s what I was doing Monday morning, anyway, as I meandered up and down our corn rows in the cool, dark August air.

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Y’see, Lindsey and I had had the best of intentions on Saturday; we were gonna wake up early and pick the green beans, snap ’em, blanch ’em, and bottle ’em. Then we were going to pick the corn, husk it, blanch it, bag it, and freeze it — but unfortunately, a handful of unforeseen errands cropped up (that’s just life, isn’t it?) — and the beans ended up taking a lot longer than planned.

It was around 8 o’clock in the evening when we finished that last batch. I was sitting in the sweltering garage, watching the pressure gauge and listening to the old familiar hissing sound as the pressure cooker did its thing on our propane cooker, and Lindsey was in the kitchen, washing what felt like the three-hundred-and-seventy-eighth sink full of dishes for the day.

When the bean timer finally went off, we both agreed: there was no chance in heck that we were gonna start another food preservation project that day!

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So fast-forward a couple of days, and there we were, Monday morning, 4:00 AM, picking corn in the pitch black, in order to get it harvested and processed before I had to go to work.

Hence the flashlight in my teeth.

We had only just started our work (still kinda bleary-eyed and stumbling) when the friendly neighborhood “coyote choir” chimed in with their encouragement.

All across the countryside, every little tree and rock and hollow seemed to echo their yapping, discordant song. And it wasn’t long before our dog, Ryu, who had been out “helping” us pick corn, started barking at the top of his lungs too, telling those old ‘yotes to keep it down! (He REALLY doesn’t like it when they start yapping).

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We eventually got all the picking done (and the husking, and the blanching, and the cutting, and the bagging, and the freezing, and the clean-up). And would you believe it, I wasn’t even late for work!

The more I think about it though, that cold, dark, busy morning epitomized August.

It totally summed up the entire month.

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August is the month where everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, just seems to all get ripe at the same time — and it’ll go rotten in a flash, if you aren’t willing to drop everything and preserve it.

August is a month of decisions. A month of sacrifices…

Are you willing to sacrifice convenience, sleep, or even valuable PTO to preserve the harvest? Or are you going to let it go to waste?

As for us, we’ve spent the last five Saturdays picking and bottling bushels and bushels of green beans (55 quarts, in case you were wondering). We’ve stayed up past midnight fermenting roughly 6 quarts of sauerkraut. We’ve picked and juiced 25 quarts of green grapes (and dried a half-gallon jar of raisins too). We’ve had two 4:00 AM mornings harvesting and freezing sweet corn (I think we ended up with about 88 quart-size freezer bags full). And we just finished a 4:00 AM morning bottling 28 quarts of peaches from my parents’ tree.

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Now, we’re definitely not perfect — and I’m certainly not trying to brag. In fact, the only reason I’m including the actual numbers is for my own personal record-keeping. It’s kinda nice to have stuff written down, so I can look back and see how much we started with, versus how much we used in a given amount of time. It definitely helps me plan for the next year!

But the fact of the matter is, we’ve also had a lot of help from parents, siblings, and our 3-year-old.

And let me tell ya, it’s really been fun to see her out there in her little hand-me-down “Indiana Jones” fedora, picking and snapping beans…

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August sure has flown by in a haze (and not just because of the smokey wildfires that have been completely smogging up our little valley). Hot, sweaty days. Cool, refreshing nights. County Fairs. Rodeos. Huckleberry picking. Canning parties. And tons of delicious, fresh food… One thing is certain, we’ve definitely been enjoying ourselves!

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