There are some things I’m not saying: Loss, I’m feeling it in life.
I’ve learned that October and
November bring reflection on my most painful loss so far, but other losses are also on my mind. My Day of the Dead altar will be fuller this year.
This past winter, my great aunt passed away. She was the last of my grandmom’s generation. Then, in the spring, my uncle from the same side of the family passed away. I haven’t spent time with my family in the US since this happened and sometimes I feel very far away. A favourite teacher, the man who taught me to write a great essay and my debate coach, passed away in July. And I still miss my Nanny (grandmom), wishing I could write her a letter or make her laugh.
What I never mentioned- because I still don’t know how to write about it- is that my childhood summer camp closed down and is on the market for commercial development.
Lastly, we’ve learned that our 5 year old cat has a congenital heart defect and has reached his life expectancy. On top of that, the vet tells us to expect it suddenly and at any time.
I’m doing my best to continue to give him all the love I can just like usual, but sometimes knowing that we can’t plan to have him in our family for a long time makes it feel SO BIG. It makes me start thinking about the family we’ve lost, never got to know, and everyone I’m fearful of losing.
‘We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’ ~Joseph Campbell
To welcome October, the weekend weather was beautiful so I spent as much time as I could outside.
Some things are still growing-the purple climbing beans, calendula, nasturtium, and runner beans- and others have stopped growth but are producing (2nd sowing of peas and greenhouse tomatoes). The asparagus peas are maturing their seeds.
On Saturday, I pulled up the peas and ate the leaves with dinner, removed the nasturtium (the backyard nasturtium stayed in because it’s still flowering for the bees), planted the rest of the onions and garlic, harvested some kale (12 scrawny plants left in the plot now), and planted field beans (‘wizard’ variety).The runner beans for drying are very slowly maturing and I picked a few of the larger pods to encourage the others to swell. It’s much harder to look at a pod and assess seed size for runners than for peas! Most of the ones I picked ended up having tiny seeds and I don’t know if we’ll get to the mature seed stage before frost hits. I think we’ll try a small tipi of them again next year since we lost the first planting and they might pod up earlier next year.
When we got back from our holiday (which I will write about eventually!), one of our blackberry canes was bent over. Although the full branch was still green, I expected the weight of the ripening fruit to strain the bend further as the season went on. So, I trimmed it back.
When you prune your blackberries, save the leaves. Blackberry leaves are a perfect herbal medicine for diarrhoea. Put 1-2 dried/fresh leaves in a glass pint measuring jug and pour in boiled water to steep. Drink 2-3 mugs spread throughout the day when diarrhoea is severe.
I have used this natural remedy when apples did not work and I was desperate enough to ask a neighbour for immodium. The immodium they had was not vegetarian so I couldn’t take it. Luckily, logic and my mom’s teaching kicked in and I headed into the garden for some leaves. One day of doses stopped it in its tracks and one more mugful the next day sent it packing. To make sure I’m not stuck without this medicine in the dead of winter, I’ve stocked our cupboard with some dried leaves.
In November, Honey and I ran a craft stall for the day for my mother in law; we spent a lot of money at the other stalls!
We both left with new wool Arran jumpers made by Squiddly Bean. My jumper is a bit more teal than it looks here and it has become my winter uniform, getting use nearly every day.
We also brought home some plants, as we tend to do wherever we go…
At work we hired a room at Govanhill Baths for staff training in the fall 2015 and I thought the pool was beautiful!
On Sunday, Honey noticed a lot of traffic around the Cambuskenneth Abbey so we decided to wander over. We hadn’t realised it was a doors open day. On doors open day each year, many historic sites across Scotland either open or open areas that are not generally accessible to the public. Since we didn’t pre-book, we were free to listen in to the tour but not able to join them when they went up to the bell tower. When I first moved to Stirling eleven years ago, it was possible to go up to the top for something like £2. I had planned on heading up at some point but then Historic Scotland closed the bell tower stairs to visitors. We never quite managed to hear about the Doors Open Days in time to plan any visits, so it was amusing that we had stumbled into one.
We asked about verbally booking a later tour, but they were completely full. Five minutes later, the tour was ready to head up and the tour guide counted those present and there were three free spaces so Honey and I, as well as another walk-on, were invited to join in!
I had pictured the bell tower as a set of stairs and an empty room and could not believe how beautiful it actually was. It was a September highlight.
Right now, it’s that sweet spot between summer and autumn that feels calm and slow. A place where I can still be barefoot and the sun rises and sets at perfectly agreeable times. A place where all I want to do is sow, pot up, harvest or preserve plants and these efforts are turned to bringing indoors as much of the outside as I can while the barrier between the two remains fluid. I don’t want to cover up or close up the house, but I know it is coming so I take this moment to give thanks for the summer we’ve had and dream up ways for it to fill our hearts, stomachs, and homes in the seasons to come.
Gather, preserve, remember, savour.
Current soundtrack: summer songs (campfire songs) or Rites of Passage.
In September 2015, we took part in a weekend long training. After the course one day, we headed to Bellahouston Park for a wander. I would like to go back, especially with more time and my camera!
We grew a bunch of volunteer potatoes (from last year’s patch and a compost trench) in the veggie patch and intentionally planted ones in the quasiallotment plot.
Although so far I’ve only plucked a few from the soft soil in the veggie patch (top photo) and harvested about 8 small plants from the plot, those from the veggie patch yielded larger potatoes.
This could be for several reasons because the veggie patch soil is softer and richer and the plants were also ‘ planted’ earlier.
The first harvest was dug up on the last week of August and the rest are soon to come.
In September 2015, Honey and I headed to Glasgow on a beautiful Saturday for a food festival. Entry was free and you bought tokens for preset taster plates. There was a farmer’s market, live music and food trucks from top Glasgow restaurants and the atmosphere was truly festive.
I had a gluten and dairy free dosa dish that went down very quickly and led us to Mother India by the Kelvingrove for dinner!
I took more photos on my camera that may make it here some day…