Wow! It is October! What an amazing ride this summer has been. It has snowed a little already, which is reaaalllly early for us here. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted an early winter and if the immediate forecast holds it will be. Looking back on the summer and around our house and yard, it is difficult to see what we have accomplished but if I look at what is not here, it is very easy to see what we have accomplished. Let me show rather than tell.
This was last April. This was after the 100 inches of snow had melted and for some reason the snow started over again. In May there was a two-week period where rain accumulation was over 12 inches. On average we only get about 15 inches per year so this was a staggering amount of water. Of course, that water had to show up somewhere so in our neighborhood we all had flooded basements and crawl spaces.
We have always kept our storage in our crawl space. Our home-canned items, our case-lot sale buys, our flour and sugar storage, outgrown clothes, precious papers, family pictures and videos, baby blankets, extra speakers, computer parts (H.H. is a tech after all), craft supplies, canning supplies, jerky and sausage making supplies, holiday decorations, outgrown toys, you name it, we might have stored it at one time.
Then there was almost a foot of water down there. It was not anywhere near a disaster level flood but we (as in the three of us that live here) hauled everything up the ladder-staircase and out onto the driveway where we sorted the sodden and damaged from the salvageable. We ousted the car and put it all in the garage, got a storage unit and began the process of sorting again. What could we live without, what had we been storing for someone else and now needed to go back to them, what needed to be put in the storage unit, what could now have a new home in the garage or the house? Ok, now what lived in the garage that now needs to go to the storage unit, is being stored for someone else, or can we live without? This sorting, tossing and storing has gone on all summer.
What is the purpose of all this sorting and moving? Well, apparently it was so that we could have the space in the garage to turn part of it into a workshop for H.H. and his woodworking. In the next few months he will move home permanently and make cabinets and other wood creations and he needs a place to work. I’m astounded and excited!
The addition of this little guy to our family has been such a blessing to all of us. I must admit I was very skeptical of the idea that a puppy of any kind could help Youngest Daughter or that we (mostly it is she) could train a puppy to be a service dog. He is only 6 months old, he is extremely smart, he chews on everything, and I thought the house training would never end but he is doing so well. I am seeing learning happen in so many ways. He is learning so very fast, he is already helping in so many ways, we humans are learning not only how to train him but also all the ways that he can help and be of service. He still jumps a lot so our oldest granddaughter doesn’t appreciate him very much and he eats everything like door trim, shirts, ropes, Libby, the cat…so we are learning pretty fast about redirecting so that he chews on chew toys, learns to greet people better and other manners. This all means that we have stepped up Libby’s manners a bit, even though she is quite polite mostly, and are trying to teach Gramma how to greet dogs politely as well. See what I mean? I am seeing learning happen in so many ways. I am astounded and excited.
Look at those green bean, pepper, and tomato plants!!
The zucchini grew taller than I am and the squash took over everything. That must have been another reason for all the rain and late snow this spring. We have grown an overabundance of everything this year. We have canned, frozen, made into soup or pesto, and eaten fresh pretty close to a literal ton of produce this year. Again, I am astounded and excited.
The harvesting and preserving were always my favorite parts of the year when I was growing up. I loved the smell of the processing and the work. I remember when I was about 10 and 11 that as soon as Mom mentioned that we soon needed to harvest beets and carrots that I began planning. The next Saturday my sister and I got up early and pulled them all, hauled them to the lawn, topped and scrubbed them. When Mom announced breakfast we had quite a surprise for her. I don’t know that she had intended to freeze beets and carrots that day but she was a good sport and that is what we did. Nowadays I harvest my beets earlier in the summer than Mom did but I still wait until after frost to harvest my carrots just like she did.
I find that hasn’t changed for me. I still love the smell of the processing, I love picking green beans and tomatoes, finding the squash, pumpkins and gourds after the frost has killed the leaves and vines, and scrubbing and topping beets on the lawn. I love the tried and true recipes and trying new ones when we have an overabundance of something. I don’t love pulling weeds, as can be observed from the photos above. Once again this year, the weeds may have won by a landslide! However, since the object is to get vegetables, maybe I could say we kind of tied this year. I also don’t love fighting mosquitoes and gnats that the abundant moisture also bred, but I have figured out that if I work early in the morning and wear a jacket and long pants I can beat the bugs too.
Some funny things happened this summer too. One of our variety of tomatoes made some pretty fantastic looking fruit!
And how does this happen? I’m not exactly sure but since some of the chickens were eating eggs for a while this summer, I think they broke one egg and in rolling the others around in the nest, the second one slid very neatly into the empty shell. Why are they egg-zactly the same color? They both are Welsummer eggs and apparently two Welsummers lay the same shade of egg. This was just too weird not to share.
One day as I continued my fight with the weeds in the raspberry and currant bushes, I had my faithful companion Libby “helping” me, although mostly she is just moral support and an excuse to take a break to play a game of fetch. I filled the garden cart with weeds and took it into the chickens before I went on weeding. When I returned to weed some more, I found this Sleeping Beauty where I had just weeded. She was using the weeds as shade and protection from raspberry bush thorns.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the summer and the most obvious of the missing items are Y.D.’s migraines. After 4 1/2 years of doctor visits, medications, a tonsilectomy, wisdom teeth removed, physical therapy for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, and many other attempts to help her get relief from the disabling pain that has occured many times a week, the pain just wouldn’t quit. We decided we wouldn’t be out anything to try an acupuncture approach and she found a certified piercer close enough to be useful and had daith piercings put in both ears. Migraines have decreased significantly in the past month. What a difference! While many health professionals say there is no evidence that this procedure would help this chronic condition, Y.D. has seen such a vast improvement that she is now trying out new pathways to get her life back. She has had to give up school, jobs, and social life to stay in a dark room for such a long time. We are so excited for the next chapter in her life. We are praying that things can now move forward for her after being put on hold for so long. I am amazed and excited.
Most summers in our life have been filled with building projects or new gardens or new pathways through and around our gardens, sometimes new paint or stain on old buildings and decks, or maybe even new siding or a new roof. As we have looked back on this summer, we have not seen any new additions. There have been visits to amazing places and visits from amazing people but for the most part this has been a summer of looking for what is missing instead of what is added. Some very good friends have passed away this summer leaving a hole in our hearts but not in our memories. We miss them terribly but our hearts are also filled with gratitude for the opportunity that we have had to know them and for the joy they have brought and continue to bring to our lives through the memories we have of them. We do know some really talented, amazing people. There is also peace in our hearts because of the knowledge that we have of a loving God and that death is not the end of our existence or relationships. What a blessing the Good News of the gospel is!
We hope as you look back on your last few months you can also measure personal progress by what is added. If you can’t try looking for what is missing and see if you can see it there. Let us know what you find.