I’ve had to don fingerless woolen gloves to type this.
I started out the morning by making a big batch of salsa, marveling at the flawlessly beautiful tomatoes I’d picked from frost-blackened vines. In October! I’d never before seen blight-free tomatoes in western Oregon in October. Though summer had started late, it had run dry and long. We were still awaiting the first fall rains.
I was both disappointed and relieved that today’s mushroom hike had been canceled. We wouldn’t have found any mushrooms, and anyway rain was expected. We might have gotten drenched.
This thought led me to take a hard look out the window as I lifted the salsa jars out of the canner. I’d thought the rain wouldn’t come until mid-afternoon, but the leaden sky told me otherwise. Our sweet Mediterranean holiday was over. Though pleased to have finished digging the potatoes yesterday, I had a lot of work to do before the god Huracán de Oregón came lurching home to weep and moan for the next seven or eight months.
I was immediately out the door. I took down the hammock and the bamboo shade for the deck, covered the burn pile (bramble cuttings and wild carrot with seedheads), and began rolling up Reemay row covers as the first drops started to fall. Oregon storms always bring more wind than rain, and the wind would surely knock down the ripest fruits in the orchard. I picked the Seckel pears, ran indoors to throw my long red raincoat over my wet clothes, and dashed back out to pick all the Seuri Asian pears. Hurrying to the vegetable garden to behead the sunflowers, I remembered the beans, or what the deer had left of them. The pole beans might continue to ripen and dry, but the bush beans would rot in the rain. I cut the stems at the ground and threw them into a wheelbarrow to spread on the shelves in the greenhouse.
After stuffing my pockets with green tomatoes and a few odd forgotten peppers and tomatillos, I returned to the house shivering and fatigued in a way I never feel in summer. I hadn’t drunk a cup of hot tea in months, but that was exactly what I needed now.
This afternoon I’ll make another batch of salsa and some greengage jam, and maybe some Asian pear jam, too. After my hair dries, if the rain stops for a while, I’ll start a wood fire in the kettle grill on the deck and roast a few pecks of peppers. And then I’ll come back in and sip tea, and listen with only half an ear while Huracán rages. All winter long.
3 thoughts on “Return of the Rains”
Lovely writing that made me somehow nostalgic for those winter rains. Though we’ve had non-stop rain here since late September that seemed like Oregon winter months early. And we had an earthquake last night, far more than anything I felt in Cascadia. Strange connections between these Northern, coastal, agricultural, hippie-loving states.
We are just leaving our winter and are fumbling into spring here in Tasmania Australia. We live in a pretty windy place but this year our winter was long, cold and dry. Our summer is predicted to be pretty similar except substituting the cold for hot. I love your automatic processes and hope that one day we will have the same ingrained automatic responses to our environment around us. I love winter and slowing down and tea drinking but I have to admit that the spring has brought an awakening of plants and wildlife that is making me enthusiastic about the coming season. There is NOTHING like a good cup of tea when its blowing a freezing cold gale. Time to hunker down squirrel style and spend your winter getting ready for the growing season :). Thank you for a lovely post full of processes 🙂
Lovely post! Thanks.