Eve of Autumn
Today we said goodbye to summer and anticipate the impending arrival of autumn. It has been warm and sunny during the day, but the crispness of fall has definitely made itself felt in the air.
We’ve been pulling out pants (only to discover George has outgrown every pair that fit this spring) and mittens and vests and rain jackets. The kitchen has been really chilly in the mornings, and it gives me an excuse to bake: I’ve made bread two days in a row, and have plans to get up before the children to bake banana bread for breakfast tomorrow.
Speaking of mornings, The Hudson’s Golden Gem apples are ready right in time to welcome in fall. I’ve been eating one off the tree every morning with my coffee, and Ruth and George have been enjoying them with dinner.
The young tree sits right outside our front door, planted in a polyculture with rhubarb, comfrey, clove currant, Egyptian walking onions, blood sorrel, rosemary, English lavender, bearded iris, calendula, and Oregon iris. Around the perimeter – in an area amended with pine needles – are highbush blueberry and lowbush blueberry and red currant. This weekend I also added a Haku Botan pomegranate – prized for being very dwarf, cold hardy, and producing double-ruffled white flowers which set into white fruit.
If you need another apple to add to the family garden, the Hudson’s Golden Gem is an excellent choice. The fruit is yellow and heavily russeted – nothing much to look at. But the flesh is creamy white, and very crisp, but with an exceptionally buttery quality – not grainy or gritty or mealy at all. The flavor is a good balance of sweet and acid with undertones of butter and hazelnuts. It’s an apple that children and adults can both enjoy very much.
To mark the shift of seasons, we had mint tea this afternoon and burnt a little myrrh in the hour or so before dinner. In studying ancient Egypt, the children had become interested in what myrrh actually smelled like (we’d burned frankincense at Christmas before). I had to order a few things from Mountain Rose Herbs, and included myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) and sweet myrrh (Commiphora opoponax), which have markedly different scents. They arrived in plenty of time to test them out today.
You can’t simply light myrrh unless you want it to smell, well, burnt. (It’s like the difference between a great cup of coffee and a scorched cup that’s sat in the pot with the burner on – they’re both coffee, but one is the right way to appreciate it, and the other is a waste of coffee.) Instead (a video tutorial is here), light a disc of charcoal, place it in salt or sand, sprinkle it with more salt (to form a buffer layer between the charcoal and the myrrh), and then place a very small piece of resin on top. It will slowly melt and darken, trailing up a wisp of intensely fragrant smoke as it does so. Two tiny half-pea sized pieces were enough to fill the whole house with the soothing aroma.
While the kids drank their tea and made dragons before dinner, I finished a few pairs of children’s’ mitts. I’m working on stocking up handmade goods to open a little Etsy store before Thanksgiving. Something about the chill in the air, the winding down of the garden, the early-setting-sun that makes fiber-folk want to knit and spin in earnest. So the turn of the season seems like a good time to get things finished up and get that Etsy store open.
Hope to be back later in the week with some of our unschooly activities and setting the fall Nature Table.
Blessings on your family as you settle into the rhythms of the new season.