Living local

As I re-read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable Miracle, a book I reread every couple of years, it re-dedicates me to live locally. We have the best Farmer’s Market I have ever shopped. They are open April through October on Wednesday afternoon and on Saturday mornings year round with more vendors. During winter, there are fewer vendors, but still some products are available including storage vegetables, eggs, meat, breads, and cheese. Each spring, I plant a garden and we have an orchard with 4 kinds of fruit trees and 3 kinds of cultivated berries, but other than tomato sauces, peppers canned and dried, tomatillos for salsas, and cucumbers for pickles, I don’t grow enough variety or quantity to supply us year round. This year, in support of the vendors, I decided to buy extras of items that can be blanched and frozen for winter use. This week was the first week of making these extra purchases and I came home with extra Sugar Snap Peas, celery, and carrots. The peas have been getting added to the freezer for a few weeks as I had extras and are coming to an end. The celery sliced for Mirepoix, the carrots sliced for soups and stews. Herbs are grown here in the garden to be dried and others in the Aerogarden for fresh use. Meats and poultry are available year round so don’t have to be stockpiled. One farm, in addition to beef and eggs, grows corn for meal, oats for oatmeal, and wheat for flour. Being able to watch my flour ground and bagged, unbromated whole wheat with bran is wonderful.

A bag was brought home, a loaf of artisan bread started last evening that was baked this morning. What doesn’t get used immediately will be frozen so there will be flour for bread this winter as well.

The finished bread is a little more dense than I had hoped, it was a new recipe that I will tweak in the future.

After putting the produce away and some frozen, dinner prepared using plenty of fresh vegetables from market and garden to make a salad, a little garden time was enjoyed. This week has been so wet, it was nice to be able to get in there, weed a little, pick berries, and pull the 34 heads of garlic to cure in today’s sun.

All but two are large and full and this should be enough to last us the year. The fall garlic seed needs to be ordered.

Soon there will be peas from our garden to enjoy and freeze. And the beans are beginning to have blossoms, the first zucchini is forming, tiny peppers and tomatoes are developing. The apple and Asian pear trees are heavy with fruit to be enjoyed raw or made into sauces later in the fall.

There was cheese purchased, Garlic Chive Chevre that was enjoyed on the salad, and a weekly treat of a bouquet of flowers from our friend’s farm.

Keep it close to home if you can, better for the environment, better for your health.

16 years ago

In June, I will have lived here 17 years. Coming out of my first retirement to re-enter the education field for an additional 3 1/2 years. The first autumn I was here, just a few short months after arriving, there was a shooting by a young man who escaped from a guard at a local hospital, went on the run and ended up killing a law enforcement officer on one of the trails we walk each week. Then 16 years ago this week, the shooting by a student at Virginia Tech, killing 32 students and faculty occurred. I wondered what kind of community we were moving into. The news media were relentless for weeks, every counselor in the region helping with first responders, faculty and students. My temporary apartment was very near the building in which it happened.

It turns out, it is a very close, supportive community. One that we have grown to love with the activity of so much youth, culture, and still a small town vibe with local businesses and restaurants.

Yesterday, the University held it’s 15th 3.2 mile run for the 32. This was on top of the football team’s spring game, and other on campus activities. The town was bustling.

Sixteen years ago, I resented the media attention not allowing healing, but over the years, I have witnessed the healing, the memorials, the activities that are reminders, but also letting the families of those affected by the two events know they are remembered and that their hurt has not been forgotten.

This is not a political statement, as we live rurally and guns are a part of the life here for hunting and for protection from animals that destroy livestock and crops. But the wonton gun violence in this country is heartbreaking. The two events 16 years ago were my first encounter with it, but it now seems to be a daily news occurrence. It needs to end, there are other solutions besides gun violence to solve problems.

Seasonal change

Halloween is done, jack-0-lanterns and ghosts packed away til next year. The wreath on the door was a grapevine wreath with fall ribbon and ceramic turkey and pumpkins shapes so it stayed up until yesterday. Our friends, the wonderful flower growers that come to the Farmer’s Market, Stonecrop Farms moves on from fresh flowers to dried flowers and wreaths this time of year. Hubby suggested that since I had expressed an interest in purchasing one, that I pick out one for my birthday still more than a week away. When we got to the market, there were still several to choose from and though I was attracted to two, decided this one called me the loudest.

It is beautifully full with fresh greens and bright dried flowers. As soon as it arrived home, the skimpy grapevine one was packed away and this beauty hung to grace the door until it fades and the Christmas one is pulled out for a few weeks.

Yesterday was above normal fall weather, following the extreme rain from the late hurricane remnants on Friday, and this morning we awoke to below freezing temperatures, light snow falling, but only accumulating in crevices on the coop, deck, and corners.

It continued with light snow showers throughout most of the day. We managed our walk in spite of the freezing temperatures, wind, and snow showers.

While we were out, a birthday card was needed as one had been missed earlier in the week. It’s purchase, caused me a head shaking pause. The clerk rang it up, told me the total. I handed her cash, she messed with the register, paused and said, “I owe you (long pause)…” I responded, 95 cents, having quickly done the subtraction in my head. She counted out the change and as I was walking out, she called out to me and said, I owe you more money. No, I responded, the purchase was x, I gave you y, the change was 95 cents which you gave me. “But the receipt says z” she says. No, you gave me the correct change, you rang it in wrong, your register is right, my change is correct. She looks confused and heads toward the manage stocking shelves in the back. Poor girl can’t even make change. I fear for her future in that job.

After arriving home, some dried Amaranth and Eucalyptus that I had purchased fresh many weeks ago from Stonecrop and hung to dry with the idea of making a couple of decorations to sell at the last Christmas Bazaar, the last hurrah for the cottage business, was pulled out. The two tobacco baskets that had been display pieces for yarn and hats at events were decorated with the dried plants and dried Baptisia seed pods from my shrub were bunched and tied with Christmas plaid ribbons and floral wire hangers on the back. Hopefully they will sell and grace someone’s home for the holidays.

At the conclusion of that event, all of my display pieces that can’t be repurposed here will be gone. Hopefully, the stock of hats, mitts, mittens, scarves, soap, salves, and lip balm will be reduced to only what can be used as gifts or for personal use. It will be bittersweet to end CabinCraftedshop, but also a relief to not have to deal with the website, taxes, and deadlines.