Fall rituals

It’s official. Fall has arrived at the Far Side. Along with the comforting sound of rain on the roof, morning fog, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the first cozy morning fire in the woodstove, come the fall rituals.

I’m not far from my mammalian roots – food becomes of utmost importance to me this time of year as I prepare for winter. Our winters are quite mild, but that doesn’t stop me from behaving as if we could be beset by blizzards for months on end. I clean and organize the pantry, check the freezer for anything that needs to be used up or replaced, fill the spice and herb containers and make soup – and applesauce – and freeze more berries than we could use in a winter’s worth of pies and crumbles.  I bake and load up the freezer with little loaves of banana bread. I buy a mountain of food at the supermarket. Robert and Adrian know it is fall when I arrive with the car stuffed with enough groceries and supplies to survive the apocalypse.

In the garden, the return of rain brings on a flush of growth. The chard is big and beautiful and the Brussels sprouts are ready for harvest. The blackberries are abundant and the second crop of figs are ripening on the trees. The fading basil becomes pesto and herbs are harvested for drying. (The oregano and spearmint are particular favourites.) I start seeking out garlic to plant for next year. A seed catalogue comes home and I check my supply of potting mix for winter sowing in the greenhouse. The greenhouse gets winterized with bubble wrap (!) to house our tender perennials and support winter seedings of early crops.

The wood shed gets attention; we heat our home primarily by burning wood. Our woodlot is thinned and managed, deadfall is cleared to manage fuel load on the forest floor, the chipper keeps our paths covered and twigs make easy kindling. Old cedar fencing is split for kindling and our new log splitter is making short work of our seasoned rounds.

We bring in a supply of hay to keep our flock fed when the growth of the grass slows down, but right now the sheep are enjoying the fresh green growth.  The first lambs of the year will soon be processed, and the ram is looking forward to spending quality time with our breeding stock.

These comforting rituals are part of the rhythm of our lives. They fill our physical and emotional needs during the passage of seasons and remind us that life moves through a pattern. After fall, winter. After winter, spring. Renewal, rebirth, and so it goes. Welcome to fall.