I never did put in a garden this year. There were big plans to do so; the perimeter fences of two gardens were rerouted to make one bigger central space. They were mostly rerouted, to clarify. Most of the fence is up, that which we completed in that first big burst of time and energy. We haven’t revisited it since. Then my seedlings all died early in the spring, hammering the last nails into the coffin that was to be my garden this year. (I’m reading Dracula right now. Hee.) So I let it go and moved on. No garden, then.
It was a small bit of grace, having let go of those expectations, obligations, and the bandwidth opened up by doing so was quickly filled with new adventures. Namely pigs. But I mourned the loss of fresh food every time I visited the grocery store. I planned for a big stocking-up at the end of the season, when I would hit the farmer’s market and fill our larder with locally-grown food, if not our own. Then all manner of exciting events and tasks converged into that opening bit of Autumn and I imagined that I would miss the chance to visit the markets before the produce was gone for the season.
Thankfully, I was wrong. On Saturday I set out with an empty minivan and a vague hope to find a big pile of tomatillos. I came back loaded to the gills.
I was overheard saying things like “How much for all your _____ ?” (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos!) I was told by 3 different vendors with big, surprised eyes, “Wow – you’ve made my day!” when I cleaned them out of something or other. I found cranberries. Cranberries! And promptly washed them and tucked them into the freezer. I received a second chance to make and can pasta sauce, and I eagerly took it. I found the load of cabbages the Kraut King requested for his annual extravaganza. Celeriac! That tastier, better-in-storage cousin of celery! I think I got 15 bulbs with the delicious stalks still attached. I bought every last potato at one local stand – yellow ones, purple ones, fingerlings.
I returned home with a winter’s worth of food. A delicious winter. Already waiting in my kitchen were the apples, grapes, and squash procured earlier in the week. Two pots of chicken stock had started the frenzy of veggie-collecting the day before and they awaited their turn in the pressure canner. They were perhaps set in motion by the random act of buying 16 red bell peppers at the food co-op the day before that, with a thought to roast and can them.
My kitchen is a-humming now, full of the smells of great wealth. We are so rich with food. But I best get busy preserving it – by proper storage, freezing, or canning.
Go big or go home, I often say.