I feel urgency in the brisk production of this week’s article, to be themed: in praise of cooler weather and the unmistakable signs of autumn, before it gets hot again, ‘cause you know it will any day now.
Currently I am overjoyed to be biking to work in full raingear, harvesting carrots in my other full raingear, drying out and warming up by the fire, and biking home in slightly-still-damp raingear. I have had it up to the tops of my comfortable rubber boots with the sweltering heat of an endless summer season.
I do appreciate that not everyone is pleased with the precip, but having endured a full heat-wave summer of customers and visitors gushing favourably about the fabulous weather, I feel obliged to wallow in my muddy pit of cool weather appreciation for just another day or two.
Leaving aside my unseemly gloating, fall certainly appears to have fallen all of a sudden, no? The leaves have turned colour, although that may be due to dehydration. If you need more, look no further than the umpteenth pick-up truck loaded with firewood out on the damp road, or the flocks of Canada geese massing overhead and appearing through the low-hanging cloud.
Another sure-fire seasonal barometer must be the now-golden grain fields dotting the valley, which I fancy I can smell from miles away. After potatoes, the conventional seed-potato growers plant a crop of oats, under-sown with clover seed.
The oats are harvested either for sale or for the cattle herd, after which the clover takes over and provides hay and pasture until it’s time for potatoes again.
We don’t grow grain on our farm, unless you count the Red Fife Wheat we plant on principle which perhaps provides enough material for a meagre dinner roll. That is the uneasy extent of my knowledge about a major Canadian crop, but I guess if I was to think about it while reflecting on the rain-battered stems of wheat in our garden, I might conclude that the rain is not good for grain. This thought alone will help me greet with good cheer the inevitable cloudless sky of tomorrow: the sun will dry the grain.
Our own current project, the mostly un-mechanized carrot harvest, provides ample time for quiet reflection and scope for imagination; even conversation made difficult by the rain drumming on raingear. In fact, the scurl of pipes drifting through the mist to the workers in the field would not be far out of place and would only serve to underline the other-worldly sensation of finally feeling cool at mid-day.
Today it was too rainy even for the carrot harvest — the mud clinging heavily to the hands makes all the necessary actions clumsy and inefficient. So the Helmers spent most of the day meeting about various things. We reviewed the sales to date, production to date, actual and projected expenses, cash flow, website development, possible capital projects, and necessarily passed (another) big-ticket spending freeze by-law: the former one doomed by a collective unwillingness to comply even more than the lack of enforcement.
Jennie spun honey, Veronika made borscht, mom filled a freezer, dad did accounting for the library, and the nincompoop puppies (there are now two) played and slept. I labelled the contents of the cooler after having managed to lose track of an entire variety in there somewhere. I had to go searching for it.
My farm day was over at 4 p.m., only the rain allows this sort of day in August.
Anna Helmer makes mental notes all the time, but only a label will do.