Signs of Fall

I know that one of these mornings, very soon, I’m going to wake up and look out the window to see my raised garden beds dusted with snow, the tire swing hanging stiffly in the cold, and a quiet in the forest that only winter can bring.

It seems like just yesterday we were licking popsicles and tossing a Frisbee while barefoot in the grass, yet Fall has been sending her signals that summer has gone.

Here are a few of the signs from the past few weeks that clearly show Autumn is indeed here to stay.

This was the first sign. A new uniform, a new grade (1), and my heart broken all over again at loosing him every day.

An entire shelf in the refrigerator became devoted to homemade pickles. Pickles with garlic, with lemon, and a particularly successful batch of Bread & Butter.

Thanksgiving came and went, with its seasonal pies, turkey dinner and family-centered focus.

Fall produce and foliage made it’s way to the sideboard in the dining room, replacing the summer flowers and bowl of tomatoes.

Apple picking – in shorts, no less. That may have been the last really warm day we had.

And after apple picking, then apple pie, this one made of entirely all-natural ingredients, conforming to our October Unprocessed eating exercise.

Pumpkins, all of them.

And finally, the beautiful changing color of the leaves in our back yard, and the crunchy carpet on the forest floor.

I’m ready to welcome winter, and hopefully usher in a quieter season for our household. It’s been a busy summer.

Perhaps I’m looking forward to winter because I know it will bring me closer to meeting our little girl, due in March. Seems like the perfect motivation to help get through the colder days of the year.

Goodbye July

It’s August, which means were eating corn for dinner 5 nights a week, I’m making birthday plans, and Christmas merchandise has showed up at Costco.

July sped by in a blur of pool parties, potlucks, weddings, and long afternoons spent keeping cool. I dedicated a series to frozen treats over on Simple Bites and, for the most part we survived the heat wave.We started the month with a perfect three-day camping trip, followed by a most memorable U2 concert under warm Montreal skies. Best. Show. Ever.The month was punctuated by our baby news! It was a thrilling discovery, but one that plunged me into exhaustion so deep I felt –and still do– that every day was Moving Day. ‘Moving day fatigue’ is the best way I can describe to Danny how my body feels in the morning as I lie pinned to the mattress. Fortunately, he’s been off work for the last 2 weeks and has gallantly risen every morning to prepare breakfast and coffee for us, and keep the kids quiet until I can rouse myself. I think my strength is slowly returning; hopefully my appetite is not far behind. So yes we are expecting again, anticipating the new arrival in early March. Danny is hoping for a leap year baby again, which could easily happen. I for one, won’t truly relax until the first ultrasound and they tell me there’s just one baby. As twins run in my family, the chances of doubling the number of our children with this pregnancy is definitely a possibility. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that kind of an adventure! Central ParkAt the end of July, I hopped on a plane to Jersey for Big Summer Potluck. I cemented some online friendships, made new ones, laughed myself silly, and spent a day eating New York City. It was the best of times. In an update on our urban homestead, our backyard project of the month was finally completed and I now have 4 raised garden beds. They terrace down the hill toward the forest, framed by a massive weeping willow. I love them.I planted a little fall garden — lettuce, spinach, watercress and arugula– and little sprouts are already peeking up from the earth. My herb garden is thriving, thanks to bedding plants I was able to find at a local nursery.Next year I will plant a complete garden; it’s reassuring to know that as soon as the snow melts the spring I’ll have a garden space ready to plant. August holds some canning projects, a visit from long-time friends, my birthday, back to school for Noah, and at the end of the month, a trip out to Vancouver to film a little project for TV…But that story is for a another post.Goodbye July.

Backyard Chickens and Other Spring Projects

Spring has sprung on our little semi-urban homestead and so have several much discussed outdoor projects. Our chicken coop has been built, five brown hens moved in, and egg production is in full swing.

We knew it would be a thrill to add feathered friends to our family, but could never have anticipated the extent of the boy’s enthusiasm over the fowl.

Noah scampers out in a dressing gown and flip-flops each morning to lower the ramp from their loft, give them a scoop of feed and check for eggs. His toes curl up, withdrawing from the dew-drenched grass as he crosses the yard, and he arrives back at the breakfast table with bright eyes and rosy cheeks.

What a way to start the day. It makes me so happy.

The coop is low enough for both boys to handle most of the chores. The design is such that the coop is moved every couple of days to give the hens fresh greens to eat and ground to scratch. It is working very well for us.

Danny and I have decided that we’re going to ‘off’ the birds in the late fall. We both have plenty of experience in this area. The only question is how much – if anything- we will tell the boys. More on that hot topic later.

A Garden of Our Own

After admiring my neighbour’s garden all last summer (no time to put one in last year with birthing a blog, hosting a family reunion, and everything that comes with settling into a new home) we are determined to get our raised beds up and producing this spring.

Danny, ever a man of thorough action, has sourced us the wood pictured above and will be building four raised beds. Not, as it would appear, a log cabin.

The whine of his skilsaw eating into the logs last night sent me into a tizzy of excitement and I abandoned the post I was drafting to tap out a quick list of vegetables and herbs I will be planting.

And for now, I look out over the woodpile and dream of fresh parsley, baby beet and colorful chard.

Ah, Spring! She always brings exciting new possibilities.