Of High Summer, Abundance, and Transitions

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Some of the abundant tomatoes ready to go in the over for an overnight slow roast. The result stores well in the freezer and is delicious during the cold winter months.
High summer on Vancouver Island smells like blackberries and dust. The former are ripening along roadsides and farm hedgerows everywhere; the latter is because we haven’t seen any real rain in two months now. High summer is also all about abundance on the farm. The plants are in high gear now, and food is everywhere. Vegetables of every description are available in almost unimaginable amounts, berries are ripening, and now, at the end of high summer and transitioning into fall, apples and pears are beginning to ripen. It’s only the early varieties ready now, but soon they will all be here in force.

For farmers (and others) who value their food, and also who offset the very seasonal nature of income on a farm by storing food from the summer for the winter, high season is also a time of trying to “put food by”, to use an old term. Blessed with electricity and freezers as we are, this often means freezing the abundance for later use, as it is the simplest and quickest way at a very busy time of year. However I always ferment some vegetables using my 6 gallon stoneware crock, as well as a number of glass mason jars; and I usually try to can a few things too. Whatever the method, these days I feel like almost every evening involves chopping, dicing, slicing, canning, or freezing some kind of fruit or vegetable for a rainy day (literally).

There is always a time, somewhere around mid-August where it all gets to feel like a bit too much. It is a time when I question if I really want to keep farming, if I can handle the imbalance of the season, the sheer full on nature of it. It is during these times that I try to remember that what is good and right is not always easy, and also when I try to learn to hold it all. Hold the abundance of the world, of the farm, of my life. I try to breath, I try to eat the food I’m growing, I try to get a good night’s sleep.

While this time of year can feel very overwhelming in its abundance, and the sheer amount of work there is to do on a farm and in the kitchen, it also doesn’t last. It often feels like it has hardly begun before you begin to sense the seasonal shift, the transition into fall. Fall doesn’t mean an end to the abundance, but it does mean the beginning of gearing down for the season. The days are getting shorter, the mornings and evenings cooler, and some of the other farm work (the late season plantings, the weeding, etc.) begins to lessen. It is a time I always welcome and truly relish. There is something about the azure blue colour of the sky, the crispness in the air, and the ripening of winter squash that fills me with the utmost joy.

As we shift from summer into fall, I also look forward to being able to begin reconnecting with friends and family who I have lost touch with during the busy-ness of summer. Because while I enjoy the work, enjoy the abundant food, and enjoy doing what I can to put it up for winter, I do neglect important people in my life, and when I do, I miss them dearly. Luckily, people seem to understand and forgive me each year for my seasonal disappearance into the fields. If they’re really smart, they’ve also figured out by now that the best way to see me, is simply to come find me on the farm or in the kitchen.

And so while high summer is not quite over, and fall not yet quite arrived, we are definitely in the transition phase between the two. There are still weeds that need weeding in the fields; the beans, tomatoes, and summer squash are pumping it out; but the winter squash, apples, and pears are ripening, and I can almost feel my whole body getting ready to exhale with satisfaction that another season has almost reached fruition.

5 thoughts on “Of High Summer, Abundance, and Transitions

  1. What a beautiful piece of writing. Would love to visit you in your kitchen. One day… Meanwhile, I feel a strange urge to can some peaches, roast some tomatoes, find ways to put summer in a jar for winter respite…

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  2. You paint such a beautiful garden with your words. I’ll be thinking of you when I pick my tomatoes, beans, potatoes and berries. Thanks for nudging me to put some away for the winter. šŸ™‚

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  3. Well La your wonderful efforts help sustain hope in me for the future. The world is a better place because of devoted committed people like you!
    Giving you the opportunity to grow your own food early has paid off big time. You’re connected to the land and well grounded. I’ m soooo proud of you.

    Pops

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  4. I so enjoyed this latest blog, Ariella, I went back and perused your previous posts. You’re such an engaging writer and clearly speak speak straight from the heart. It appears you’re found the perfect scenario to go out on your own with the bonus of being closer to family and old friends. so happy for you.

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