Where September Ends…

It began to happen a few weeks before the equinox. The leaves began to change almost over night — changing from green to indescribable colors and combinations. The sunlight changed color, too — and the sky, a different shade of blue. If you never stopped to look, maybe these changes wouldn’t be so striking — the difference between green and gold, aqua and azure. Still, not noticing them doesn’t make them any less real. Autumn is here!

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Ordinarily I’d apologize for making only one post for an entire month. But, seeing as how September was unceremoniously dubbed Canning Month, I will make no apologies! I was not absent for laziness or carelessness. I was busy in the kitchen simmering down summer and ladling it into jars to glisten in the pantry.

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Now that most of the jars have been filled (only apples and pumpkins remaining) and an entire season of heat, sun, soil, and vigor is past, I stare out the kitchen window to see the maples beckoning me to wander outside and just stare for a while.

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The shadows from the early autumn sunlight draw you from your house and into the woods on days like these, as if in a trance. The days are shorter and shorter and you find yourself cherishing them maybe more than usual because of it. Work can wait, autumn won’t! Let’s hit the trail and see it!

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A very dry August (little more than a half inch of rain) we’re told means that fall colors, this year, won’t be quite as vibrant or as lasting. In agreement, some of the aspens and beeches already shed their leaves without so much as a peep of color, tired and worn from the long, dry summer. Better luck next year, I hope. But, we still have the maples and a few other hardwoods to admire in this abbreviated autumn.

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Autumn from top to bottom — the sky, the trees, the leaves… the flowers. I sometimes stare at knapweed and marvel at its tenacity. Its seeds are so inconsequential you might never notice them as they explode and tumble while you tromp through on your way from point A to B and yet each one produces a plant so stubborn and determined that controlling them is more like holding back an invading army.

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Determined and resourceful, knapweed can also taint the soil around its roots so that the seeds of other plants will not IMG_5268germinate so easily while its own seeds will have a sure advantage. Botanists call this sneakiness allelopathy, but I think of it more as over-protective mothering — one plant reaching into the soil to help the plants soon to come. Of course, this isn’t so charitable if you’re any plant other than knapweed!

And so, September has ended, and with it summer. The flowers are fading, busying themselves with making seeds for next year. The fruits are ripening, ushering in one last bit of harvesting. The songbirds are gathering and discussing their journey. The leaves are changing and falling as the forest yawns and sighs in the crisp breeze, preparing for its annual hibernation where its sleep will be as full of dreams as any wakefulness of summer.

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~ by Jason on October 1, 2012.

19 Responses to “Where September Ends…”

  1. Jason, it might have been one post but it was a great one. πŸ™‚ The pictures were very pretty. You make it seem as if anyone would want to be right there. And I can’t wait! It’s beautiful there. Thanks for making me miss it and ya’ll more. LOL πŸ™‚ Love MOM

  2. And yet today, the colors are redder, golder and now cover nearly every bough in the county. Looking out our kitchen window it’s like looking at a patchwork quilt… Post more pics of the riotous color now Jason!

    • I know! πŸ™‚ It’s a shame there haven’t been many days (or even hours) of ample sunlight to be able to get out and see the colors. I guess it’s going to be that kind of autumn, though. Whenever the sun does momentarily shine through the clouds, you do a double-take, for sure — the leaves sparkle and come to life. I’m hoping this coming weekend turns into our one opportunity to really get out and enjoy the colors before they’re gone.

  3. Your area is so very lovely… That autumn light is beyond compare. And those shadows!

  4. Autumn…YES! She is just beginning her brilliant paintbrush strokes on the mountainsides of Roanoke valley. The morning fogs are quite mystical and inviting my mind to swirl along the pastures and rolling hills. In my youth I paid homage to summer, but it is autumn that now has my heart. Last weekend I was heading from Ohio to Virginia along route 52 and the trees provided a spectacular panarama of color and light. Let the magic of autumn soothe your soul and free your spirit to fully experience one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts! Peace, Vickie

  5. You have such a knack for capturing light in your photos. So appealing. And your pantry looks AMAZING!!!!! There is nothing like the satisfaction of canning your own (or local) produce. A joy that lasts for months…

    • Thanks! My photos rely more on luck and taking several shots of the same subject than they do on my actual photography skills, but I’ll take a compliment! πŸ˜€ James can bear witness to my pausing several times during a hike or a walk and making a fuss over a patch of wildflowers only to not like any of the photos, later.

  6. So what was your favourite canning recipe? Best results?

    • This year, since we were dealing with so many new possibilities (thanks to the garden) as far as ingredients, I was able to branch out in the kitchen a bit more and try some new recipes. And, since I’ve been working over and refining my jam and preserves recipes since 2007, I’m finally getting some that I’m willing to “chisel into stone tablets”. πŸ™‚ That’s no small step for me, because I’m seldom done tinkering with a recipe even when I’m completely happy with it.

      My favorite new canning recipe, this year, was called “Hot Pickled Sweet Peppers”. While I’m not a fan of its name, I love the taste and versatility of what’s inside the jar. Imagine roasted sweet peppers and sliced (spicy) chile peppers crammed into a jar and pickled with a slightly sweet pickling solution that tames some of the heat of the chiles while infusing their zestyness into the sweet peppers. We love using these in any recipe that calls for a jar of “roasted red peppers”, but we also love slicing them up and and putting them in panini. The recipe came from You Can Can.

      My favorite “aha!” moment, this year, was suddenly stumbling upon a method that extracted the full flavor of Bartlett pears and captured it in the pear preserves I’ve been trying to make for years. Where I used to wind up with a preserve that tasted just “kinda fruity”, I now have something that tastes like concentrated pear goodness. What’s even more exciting, is that I tried the same thing on apples and it worked just as well! Happy toast!

  7. Your photography is just lovely (the light in that last picture…stunning), thank you for them. I’m completely jealous of your pantry shelves: my efforts at canning are shall we say…lacking. Reading this makes me miss Michigan autumns.

    • Thank you — and thanks for reading. It’s taken us almost a year to feel a sense of order about our pantry. The shelves — which are roomy in one respect and cavernous in another — required a lot of brainstorming and trips to different “home organizing” stores to get little risers for things to sit on so that we don’t have to pull everything out to see what we have at any given time!

      Canning is something I have a love/hate relationship with, myself. I love stocking up, love gathering all these fruits and vegetables from the garden and from nearby farmstands, love the look of the stained-glass shining back at me from the pantry, love the taste of these products that are uniquely ours and couldn’t be purchased from any store. But, as we get to this time of year when I’m nearly done, I also reflect on how an invisible chain shackled me to the kitchen for about a month and a half. Canning becomes like a second job — something I don’t exactly need with an already full-time job plus all my other “hobbies”. With a jar in one hand, I weigh the cost of time in the other. For now, I judge the cost to be worth it. I hope I’ll always feel that way!

  8. Jason, I just love reading your blog! It takes me to a happy place. The photography is exquisite.

  9. Next time you’re here, you are organizing my pantry. Sending love your way, darlings! And btw…love the Grouchy Pickles and the Strawberry Jam. Delish. Also, I roasted the tomatoes and used them in Dhal (Indian Lentil Soup). So tasty. I guess I’ll try the sweet peppers next.

    • Mmm… roasted tomatoes are scrummy in a soup!! πŸ˜€

      I’m glad you liked the grouchy pickles. We’ve not found a lot of people to bestow those on, yet, because so many people are afraid of “spicy” foods. Wimps!

      Love to you too! ❀

      • They aren’t even that spicy! But I have that NOLA palate, I suppose. Ate the Spicy Pickled Sweet Peppers with pulled pork and coleslaw last night. Awesome!

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