It’s the Autumnal Equinox here in the northern hemisphere. I cannot tell you how how gladly I welcome the arrival of September when that too-hot sun of August takes a step back and some early rains dampen the woods. The hoses in the garden can rest now. Suddenly the world fills with scents of an old kind again: over-ripe berries in the brambles, apples on the stem, fungus underfoot in the duff. Fairy rings appear where they had not been.
Deep in our woods, where the very old stumps rest and seem to hold
a knowledge they wait to share (One day, they say, one day, you’ll see what I meant by that.), the much-awaited Chanterelle mushrooms have emerged:
Spiders sling their end-of-season webs across the trails. Wooly bears hurry from one side of the road to the other (Broad brown band? Narrow? What will the winter be?). Hornets prepare, in their magnificent chewed paper houses (Papier Mâché: chewed paper), for the arrival of cold weather.
We shared the picking of plums with them. You probably never saw two such fools as we, stealing from the tree and picking up drops while hornets contested ownership of the fruit. But, despite their insistence that all these plums belonged to them, we filled our buckets without incident. Maybe they were too drunken on the nectar to really bother about us.
We’ve picked blackberries (What good ice cream they make!).
We’ve made the first two pressings of apple cider (Gravenstein, Hewes crabs, Golden Delicious, and Spartan), and are storing them in the freezer for a season-end press of the Liberty apples. The final blend will include the mellow early Gravensteins and Golden Delicious, the fulsome mid-season Spartans, the ping! of the crabs and the snap! of the fall Liberties. Here’s a portrait of some of the tart-sweet crab apples before crushing. It always seems a shame to crush them.
This year we had the most magnificent Harvest Moon only a couple of days before the equinox, rising just after sundown, hanging low and large in the growing darkness.
It’s not the end of summer. It’s the beginning of autumn.