The end of summer.
‘Twas yesterday eve that I felt the shift. The night temperatures would fall much too cold for summer crops. I gathered my long shawl- orange and reds to match the changing leaves- across my hair and over my shoulders to keep the encroaching dusk chill away and gathered my baskets.
Out into the gardens with falling light I felt for vegetables and fruits in the dirt, on vines, hidden in lush leaves, swiftly clipping and twisting them into my hands. Watermelons, butternut squash, yellow squash, poblanos, chilies, jalapenos, green peppers, and dozens upon dozens of green tomatoes came tumbling in.
Into the warm house where the fire was lit and the candles dazzled the rainy night. For rain it poured and torrents of it came, while lightening bid farewell to the summer night games. An autumn chill has descended here and the nights will stay cool as the sun tends to fall asleep early and the gardening days of fall are almost done.
The oil lamps lit, and candles brighten pages of good books. And the darkness descends us into a warming rest. I took a sip of tea and watched him put another log on the fire.
The streets were blocked off and thousands of people descended upon our small city for the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival. The bright colors of chile ristras create a festive glow and the annual event corresponds with harvest and the autumn. I brought home a wreath of colorful chilies.
At the El Pueblo Museum the mercado took place. The smells of roasting chilies and the sound of Spanish music filled the air. Dancers that were traveling through for a Folklorico Mexican dance competition stopped and entertained us throughout the day with beautiful dancing and breathtaking attire.
Inside the adobe house where the market once stood many, many years ago, time stands still. I memorize pieces and admire the simplicity and homestead life. I gather ideas and breathe in the history beneath my feet.
The winds caught everything in its grasp in unusual tyrannical fits this last spring. It lifted trees and roofs in some places. At our house, some branches came down and the ristras decorating my porch went flying. Their seeds settled in the gardens and have been growing better than the ones I started myself from seed. Mother Nature does have quite a sense of humor. Turns out she loves New Mexican red chili as much as I do and thought it a kind gesture to grow some for me. What a treat! What a pleasant discovery.
I could eat them now as spicy chili rellenos or let them turn a brilliant red and dry them. Then I can have my own delicious chili all winter long.
Garlic, chilies, or other vegetables have been traditionally knotted together to dry and therefore preserve for winter. They can be hung out of mice’s reach and will stay good all year. They are also a lovely welcome sign.
Most directions say to use slip knots to attach each individual piece. I do wonder if a sewing needle and yarn might hold it all together as well.
It is also time to start drying herbs for winter. I am loving the climate of our new home in Pueblo. I have had the most beautiful display of herbs in my gardens. The sage is lush, oregano spreads its arms along the ground, the basil is fragrant, and everything grows well here.
To Preserve Herbs:
Place picked leaves of sage or basil or oregano or parsley or whatever you have into individual lunch bags with a few holes punched in it. Label bag with contents and date. In three weeks crumble herbs and transfer to canning jar or ziplock bag for winter cooking. Simple as that!
Such a bountiful time of year for fresh eating and grateful preserving. Everything is so colorful, the mornings are cooler, and here on our homestead we sit happily among the multitudes of plants, watching the chickens roam, eating alfresco, and enjoying these lovely days.