Harvest Moon and the Magic of the Earth

black walnuts

Harvest moon and ramblings of fall.  Harvest moon is one of a couple full moons we give names to.  This one, closest to the autumnal equinox, is when things that haven’t been harvested in earlier growing seasons get harvested before the cold comes.  The other full moon I like to remember the most is in January and is called Wolf Moon. That name comes from much earlier times, to signify the time when the wolves would come closest to the house.  We don’t have to worry much about that where I live, but it’s a good reminder that we are not all that has ever been.

A beautiful day in Pennsylvania, time to go out and do some work.  Time to take down the green bean plants and tomato, and trim some things.

I have an empty building lot beside my house, where my garage sits and my little garden, and a bamboo forest.  The bamboo is amazing stuff, which spreads like wildfire in the spring.  New shoots come up and grow several feet in several days, really, and you have to break them off if you don’t want it to spread in that area.

The bamboo is so flexible that it lays down completely in the ice or snow, and when the weight is gone as it thaws, the bamboo comes right back up.  Rabbits and squirrels often run  into the dense bamboo to  hide from occasional red tailed hawks we get here. The hawks can’t get them since the bamboo is so close together.  The woods behind the house provides homes for all types of small creatures and  us with plenty of wildlife to enjoy all year round.

bamboo

There used to be a house on the empty  lot, a 2 story frame house that was torn down about 1930.  Since then, the property’s former owner never grew anything except a couple of trees on the land, and didn’t realize the land had an address, since it didn’t have a house.  I think the land felt neglected and maligned, and I have given it a name since I bought it and also given it the task of growing things for me.  It has done very well with that.

I don’t grow much in the way of veggies, but do grow tomatoes, hot peppers, and some green beans and a few herbs.  Good things can happen from a few plants if the land is good and you treat the plants well.  From a few green bean plants I had lots of good beans all summer. Left the last bunch go to seed and I’ll plant them next year and  have more!  One $2 tomato plant gave me lots  to cook with in their season and  4 bags of frozen ones to use in sauces and soups all winter.  Hot peppers, oh yea, I had plenty to harvest and dry.  All from seeds from one plant I bought last year. They add some  heat to tomato dishes and soup in the winter.  It’s nice to cook with things you grew yourself right outside when it’s cold and snowing in the winter.

I grow some herbs to cook with:  rosemary, chives, basil and lovage.  There is another herb that seeds itself here from original seeds I planted 11 years ago.  It’s called Sweet Annie and it is a testament to how well things grow here.  It’s supposed to get about 3′ tall and mine gets 6′ tall with a woody stem.  It’s an ancient herb, originally called worm wood. It was used as a medicinal herb in the middle ages to expel worms from peoples’ bodies.  Another thing we don’t need to worry about now, thankfully.

Sweet Annie serves a purpose here of the beautiful smell for me and small flowers for the bees, as well as places for bugs to hide.  The smell of the plant is the most wonderful, earthy smell, and I let the plants stand all winter since the smell goes on.  Essential oil in the plant mostly goes away once it freezes, but some smell remains. I often run my hand over one of the plants as I walk past, summer and winter, to stir the smell up.  After a summer rain, the smell fills the whole area around the plant.  Letting them stand over the winter gives me more scent and assures that the seeds will be able to fall to the ground to allow for more next spring.

wormwood

wormwood

My neighbor’s black walnut tree has more walnuts on it than I’ve ever seen, for some reason.  The squirrels are having a ball with all of them, eating some and leaving the shells all over the yard, and packing some away for winter.  The chipmunks can’t get walnuts open, but they are scurrying all over taking acorns from the oak trees to their dens for the winter.  All that makes the yard full of activity; plenty of action for MaChatte to see from the windows.

black walnuts

It was time to hang the bird feeder outside MaChatte’s favorite winter window, so she can sit there and see lots of colorful birds eating from the feeder, or from seeds dropped on the ground.

feeding birds

I have one great sadness in the need to cut down a 50-year-old silver maple over the winter.  A fungus attacked it several years ago and it has been growing what we always called punk on one side for years, and the punk is increasing.  I had the tree company I use come and look at it.  The guy said it will probably be ok a couple more years, but there’s no sense putting off the inevitable: it will be taken down in November.  I need to consider that if it or any part of it would fall by itself, no matter which direction it fell, I’d be having a really bad experience cos it’s close to both the house and the garage.  I hate to cut it down, but it needs to be done.

maple tree

Things will grow differently around the back of the house next year, since it shades my little patio and the sun will come to that area now.  I will miss the shade of the beautiful old thing at the back of the house.  The squirrels will miss another transportation route and the seeds it provides in the spring.

Fall has its own beauty; the colors, the things that are harvested in small amounts here and huge amounts elsewhere.   The plants get to rest till another year, chipmunks will go in to their dens for the winter, and the squirrels will continue to entertain us with their searches for food even in the snow.  Winter will come and we will remember all the beauty of the summer and fall.  To everything there is a season and each season has its own magic.   The magic goes on whether I see it or not, but I try to absorb as much as I can.

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