Monday, September 29, 2008

Say Good-bye To Summer

Pet thought you might like to know what a round hay baler looks like 

Karen's way to say good-bye to summer


Well Pet, it’s time to say good-bye to summer. The final parties of the season are coming up just when the weather is getting cool enough to enjoy the back patio. Sigh. One good thing about living in Southern California is even as Fall approaches we can still be out barbequing and drinking mojitos. I really do think summer parties should start right about now. At least for the poor folks like me that live inland. But with the kids back in school and people getting ready for the Fall it’s hard to convince people now is the perfect time to party outside!!


Here in the country, we don’t know what a mojito is but we know summer’s over when the corn dries up. The ears are then picked by a machine that shoots the kernels into the cart and leaves husks on the ground. Next the grain travels into the silos for livestock dinners. One of our local farmers grows only grain and does one-thousand acres of corn. He has a customer over the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina who runs a hen house with one million chickens. The birds consume a tractor trailer load of corn a day. Now you know where those deviled eggs for your parties come from.


Wow, now that’s a lot of chicken and corn!!!!! There aren’t too many indicators of the close of summer in the big city. Unfortunately the most obvious one is that the freeways are packed and the commute time just doubled. But I know exactly what will ease the pain of a nerve splitting LA commute. Here’s the recipe for a mojito. It’s a summer favorite in Cuba. Kind of like a Caribbean version of a mint julep. 

Ingredients: 4 mint leaves, 1 lime for juicing, 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, 2 ounces white rum, 2 ounces club soda, 1 sprig of mint(for garnishing) and crushed ice.

Preparation:  Put the mint leaves into a tall glass and squeeze the lime juice over them. Add the powdered sugar and then pound the mint, lime juice and sugar together. Add crushed ice. Stir in the rum and top off with the club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and enjoy. Yummy!


Sounds good but hope all you folks in Tinseltown wait to imbibe until you get OFF the freeways. Let’s see I have a great crop of mint, but need all the other ingredients. The saddest part of autumn in the country happens when all the flower die. The marigolds performing magnificently in the summer now are brown and very deceased. Some blooms such as vinca and scarlet sage will last until the first frost and some, like the pretty pansies, try to hang on through the winter. I love the change of seasons. The leaves are starting to turn now and us mountain folks share them with literally millions visit from surrounding cities. But I envy you with year round gardening. I’m going outside and popping in some crocus bulbs, as they serve as heralds of spring and rebirth.


Actually this is the start of my favorite gardening season. The weather has cooled down enough that I can get back out and clean up all the flowers a shrubs that didn’t make it through the hot summer months. Nothing is more fulfilling than tearing out all the dead carcasses and planting new flowers. I’m a sucker for petunias and pansies this time of year. They work so well with my Victorian house.  I just planted a bunch of them in shades of purple around the two-tiered circular fountain in my front yard. Took me over a month to motivate myself. The down side of this time of year is the flocks of crows that swarm my fountain and usually end up breaking it. They love to toss all kinds of things in the basin. I’ve found everything from chicken bones to a nice gold ring!


I guess you can detect a subtle change of season out there in paradise. Planting pretty flowers seems like a great way to welcome autumn. Here in the country, you know summer’s over by those golden round bales of hay scattered through the fields. Although the drought seems to have popped up again we were blessed with enough rain to produce a bumper crop of hay. The hay, so important for feeding the livestock over the winter, went from hay stacks to those little square bales that had to be stored in the barn. Of course getting the hay in usually happened during the hottest week of the year. The round bales can be left in the fields until needed, and get this: one big round bale equals thirty of the little square ones. Anything making a farmer’s life easy is good.


I love the round bales scattered out in the fields. They look very much like a Van Gough painting. I remember when the first farmer in Upstate NY bought a fancy new round baling machine. He was the talk of the town! The square bales are what bring back nostalgia now. So guess what you see in the fake pumpkin patches in the city. You guessed it, square. But Fall is still a ways off here. We are still planting flowers and enjoying the last lingering hours of summer. Nothing like lounging in the backyard drinking lemonade and barbecuing all before 7:00 pm. It’s finally cool enough to start cooking at 3:00! Yeah! Unfortunately by 7:00 the sun is beginning to set. I so hate when it starts getting dark early again. I don’t miss the heat of summer but I do miss the sun going down past 8:00.


The shorter days are definitely cutting into my gardening time. This evening I worked hard planting red and yellow tulips along with daffodils. Those of us afflicted with gardening fever love trying to figure out how the flowers will look without the existing plants. Don’t you miss spring bulbs? I bet you don’t miss “putting away” the bounty of the vegetable patch for use all winter. I used to can, but now freeze whatever I can. Hard to believe that in a few short weeks my copious bed of basil will succumb to the frost. Basil just isn’t the same dried like oregano or frozen like parsley so I settle on a simple pesto recipe: 2 cups packed basil leaves, ¼ cup toasted pecans, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon seasoned salt, ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper. Mix all in food processor until mostly smooth. Freezes nicely. The batch I made up is going fast so I’m making more while the leaves are with us. Goodbye summer!


Fran said...

We can also look as autumn as a time when we will get a well needed break from all our gardening! The grass doesn't have to be cut as often and there is less weeding to do. Maybe you'll have time for writing.....

WENDY said...

wow,just learned you can freeze pesto, thankyou pet, I have so much basil in the garden, I will do that tommorow! And Karen, its still warm enough here in de, 80 today, I will make a mohito while im frezzing my pesto.THANKS. But I have to go with Fran also, I welcome Autum,and a needed break from the garden.......