Hard Frost

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A couple weeks ago, we found ourselves hustling feverishly around the garden, racing the setting sun.

Not that that’s anything new though. With the days growing shorter and the to-do list growing longer, it actually seems to be a pretty common occurrence this time of year…

But there was kind of an extra sense of urgency that night — an extra dose of excitement.

Y’see, we were slated to get our first hard frost in the morning, and we still hadn’t finished harvesting our “warm season” crops (e.g. the tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, melons, etc.)

So there we were, hurriedly picking the fruits of our labors. Nearly 8 months of labor, I might add. And we were hauling it all down to the root cellar — hopefully before it got too dark to see.

I tell ya, it was a pretty exciting race!

Fortunately, we got it all picked in time, and as I pushed that last wheelbarrow-load through the gloomy twilight (with my 3 year old riding precariously atop the stack of pumpkins), I couldn’t help but breathe out a long, satisfied sigh of relief.

NOW the frost could come. The harvest was all safely gathered in, the animals all had fresh, deep beds of straw, and if truth be told, I was ready for a break.

I was ready for the plants to die off.

It always seems like we’re running such a marathon this time of year — what with the harvesting, canning, hunting, and winterizing projects that just seem to crop up everywhere.

And to add even more to my exhaustion, I actually HAD run a marathon just a few weeks earlier, all 26.2 miles of it. Because, y’know, I don’t already have enough on my plate.

My knees are still trying to recuperate from that little jaunt…

But that particular night, as I turned around and gave the sprawling vines and bushes one last glance, bidding them a silent sort of “farewell,” I paused to take in a deep breath of crisp Fall air.

And I just stood there, drinking in the excitement and satisfaction that always comes with the first hard frost. Although at the same time, there was just a hint of sadness in the air. Kind of a heavy, mournful feeling.

I thought of my gnarly old tomato plants. My little monkey and I had started them from seed clear back in March. Lindsey and I had transplanted them from their yogurt cups into the garden, in the failing light of a warm May evening. And our 1 year old has been out there terrorizing them almost every evening since then. Their fruit has made its way into countless meals, and to tell you the truth, I’m really gonna miss ’em…

I’m really gonna miss ALL our plants.

The first hard frost brings with it the promise of quieter, slower days ahead — but it also means saying goodbye to old friends. Old friends I’ve worked with. Old friends I’ve prayed for. Old friends that have nourished my body and my soul.

I guess if you were to sum it all up into one word, it’d have to be:

Bittersweet.

But, as usual, I’m gonna try and focus on the sweet — with a cozy fire and nice glass of homemade apple cider!

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