Fall – The Old Becomes New

Reader Contribution by Mary Conley
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Dear Friends,

Fall is my favorite season. This should be old hat for someone in their 70’s, but the aroma, the crisp feel in the air, and the beauty are as exciting again as if experiencing it for the first time.

Today, when I went to the mailbox, the sun was shining on a tree across the street, and its golden leaves were drifting in the wind. I held my arms out straight and marveled at it all. Then, self-consciously checked to see if anyone was looking!

Something else feels new to me: The miracle of putting away the harvest. It seems rather silly that I feel this way, but canning and drying apples, baking and freezing pumpkin and squash, and roasting the pumpkin seeds is such a fulfilling experience. I gave it thought today, curious that it makes me so happy. After all, it is work! But, wondrous work!

I’ve frozen several 1 cup containers of butternut squash which is a handy meal size for the two of us, and also 1 cup containers of pumpkin for smoothies and hot pumpkin drink. And, of course, two cup containers for pies or pumpkin bread.

We don’t eat as much baked goods as we used to, so we gave away many of these sugar-pie pumpkins.

We want to be able to continue growing as much of our produce as possible, so it is our goal for next planting season to only plant what we can use, but still be able to harvest pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. We’ve found that two or three short rows of potatoes are enough for us, and we’ll try a small patch of sweet corn. Our kitchen garden will be smaller, also.

I have a sad feeling that at this age we’ll be cutting back more each year. I have not been a good sport about this “getting old” stuff, as I have wished for another ten years or so of working on our special little farm before the slowing down began. I’ve heard about people growing old gracefully. Maybe I should give it a try.

A great little tool that Larry uses to peel, slice, and core the apples.

Although several of our dwarf trees didn’t produce this year, we still had plenty of apples for sauce and to dry in our nine drawer Excalibur dehydrator. Last year we gave each family member a small bag of dried apples for Christmas and plan to do the same this year.

We planted our sweet potatoes late, then the deer evenly sheared off all that crawled through the fence. Larry wishes they would do that with the weeds!

We did get several nice sized sweet potatoes.

So did the moles!

Yes, fall is wonderful even if the weather starts getting chilly. It allows us to experience other pleasures such as lighting the fireplace and burning scented candles. Or, how about setting up a card table and getting out a puzzle? Although we complain about the extremes in weather, I would certainly never want to miss out on four distinct seasons of Nebraska — the good life!