Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jack Frost (noun): an elfish creature fond of nipping noses

Other farmers, in some places, call winter the Dark Days. Reading a blog post about "preparing for the Dark Days" in mid-August, I thought this was overly dramatic. Everyone knows that there is less light in winter. Plus, it's only August; pop open a wheat beer and listen to the garden grow. But, apparently, it's true. The days are increasingly dark, and apparently, need to be prepared for starting in mid-August. It appears that the dark is a lot more obvious when your house, and the five other houses that share the valley, are the only light producers (save the moon and stars, of course) around: no streetlights, no rows upon rows of buildings full of restaurants and ostentatiously bright apartments, no endless stream of cars, no traffic lights, and no (if you are in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods) occasional, mildly nerve-wracking, helicopter spotlight. And, a need to be outside -- first thing, before the sun, for a while after work -- just rubs it in. It is dark now, Time to wake up. It is dark, now, Go inside and stop for the day.

This is both nice (oh, to eat dinner before 11!) and somewhat alarming.

Our first frost happened the night of the 9th (a mere six days before I had predicted it. I dutifully noted it: "FIRST FROST!" in my garden notebook). The day before, I spent hours in the garden, harvesting every pepper, ripenable tomato, eggplant, and winter squash (75 pounds of these). And true to last year's legacy of putting in windows the day before the first snow, we blew in a foot and a half of insulation in the attic, just in time to keep us relatively cozy under a frost.Other notables: the boar and all the roosters have become total jerks. The boar makes all kinds of odd clicking noises, while trying to push you over. He understands that the best way to do this is to slam the weight of his bigger-than-you body into the back of your knees when you are distracted. We are not on good terms right now. The roosters, similarly, have taken to flinging themselves at the back of my legs when I innocently stroll out to throw corn about and hunt for eggs. They remind me of the raptors from Jurassic Park, running about in the weeds, in a team of three, waiting for me to get interested in something else. THWAP!

The frost is like that: a constant reminder biting you on the back of your legs, on the tips of your nose...time to figure out how to water the animals in the winter....time to figure out where to keep the squash...time to buy hay and build a cozy place for geese. And the dark just keeps creeping later, and earlier, eating the useful hours of the day and forcing us to spend time inside, baking casseroles and reading in the dim light.

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