Thursday, September 20, 2012

Enjoying the End of Summer

The grounds around our home are still thick, lush & verdant, yet I can already sense the approach of Fall around me.  Nature is making it known in small, subtle ways that change is in the air and that the end of summer is upon us.  I'm relishing in the last of those large ripe tomatoes from my farmer's market, thinly sliced on top of crostini, sprinkled with a bit of fine sea salt & drizzled with the fruitiest of extra virgin olive oils; this is a marvelous appetizer.  Although the sweet white corn from the Amish farms in Lancaster County is finished until next year's crop, we are now enjoying their deliciously crisp apples by the pound!  I must make something with them very soon.


A lovely butterfly is enjoying this native Joe's Pie Weed.

I don't know about you but I welcome the change of season with gusto, because it seems to usher in the colors, flavors & aromas I find to be the most comforting.  It is right about now that I begin to think about the approaching holidays and all of the sweet goodness that comes along with them.  A certain someone has already requested my pumpkin custards even before Thanksgiving, so I will have to get to them pretty soon to satisfy that craving. 

You can see it's face more clearly here.  The butterfly didn't mind one bit that I was photographing it, because it was too busy with the flowering plant.

In order for me not to get overwhelmed in the coming months with all of the cooking, baking & gift giving that comes along with the holidays, I take a few moments right about now to make a few lists of what I feel like trying & giving (I know more lists!).  The old standbys always get made, but I also like to include several new recipes, either for Thanksgiving or Christmas, that seem good to me or those which catch my attention from magazines, cookbooks or online. 

I don't want to make anyone feel pressured, but it might be a good idea to make a tentative list of some of the things you'd like to give or the recipes you'd like to try.  Crafters who want to embark on an ambitious project can certainly begin to formulate their ideas & perhaps even start them now.

Over a dozen of these plants surround the patio of the bank barn.  On this particular day, even the bees were relishing in their sweetness.


These pot grown tomatoes were given to us by neighbors at the beginning of September.  They made the tastiest of salads; sliced in half over a bowl with the juices, drizzled with olive oil & balsamic vinegar, salt to taste.  Superb!


Even 'Lion' is enjoying the warm sunbeams on top of this cozy bed.  He can be here for hours at a time and not move an inch. 


I recently photographed our surroundings during one of my daily walks with the hopes of showing you what this part of the world looks like right now.  It's always nice for me to take note of the transition the landscape goes through this time of year, because I eagerly await to see if the foliage will be spectacular.  We had a lot of rain last year and weren't graced with with the beautiful colors of years past, but I'm hopeful that this season will see a return to the splendor we love in the Northeast.

This lovely lavender is still in bloom and so fragrant.  With their delicate petals & vibrant hues, the lavenders that surround the slate walkway in front of our home attract a lot of attention from the bees & butterflies. 
A lavender stem.

The driveway is still surrounded by a green background.  If you look closely though, you can already begin to see some of the leaves turning from a deep green to a chartreuse.  I can't wait!
A few of the Dutch split doors to the barn were opened on this particular day because we had a visiting guest working there.
This is one of her sketches which will become a painting in the coming months.  As I was walking up to greet our friend Cathy, she had this sketch rolled up with a large beetle in it.  She had found it inside the barn and decided to let it crawl onto the paper in order for her to let it out. 
I continued my way up toward the field.  The meadow had been mowed about a week before & everything smelled so fresh & clean.
You can see a few patches of grass along the hill changing color.
The new galvanized steel gutters & spouts seem to be holding up well along the western wall.
The leaf pigments of this tree are already beginning to change color.  In a few more weeks, I expect it to be devoid of all green.
The meadow is such a pleasure to walk on in the spring & summer.  Although I didn't photograph the area this year, you can still see what it normally looks like if you revisit last year's post by clicking here.  Once we near the beginning of Fall, the entire area is mowed one last time.  It will now be ready for the colder months.
It's amazing how fragrant & gratifying it is to walk around here.  I suppose the comfort I take in the smell of hay stems from when I was quite young.  Mom & dad allowed me to raise rabbits when I was a child, so I always kept a bale of hay or two to feed my pets everyday.   
The walking path is clearly delineated from the rest of the field.  I was hoping to run into some deer when I was photographing, but unfortunately I did not.
I'm almost at the other end of the meadow here and if you look closely toward the middle, you can see the stone barn.  It's as if the hill is swallowing it up. 
At the other end of the field the barn completely disappears over the rolling landscape.  Normally, the area is abuzz with activity from insects, birds & other wildlife.  On this day, however, it was very calm & quiet.   

Progress!  Many native trees have been planted to repopulate this bare area and if you look closely, every single trunk is protected from being eaten by the local deer.
This is a better picture of what I mean.

If you live in the Northeast, these may be familiar to a lot of you.  Can you guess what it is?  It's actually a black walnut still in its husk.  The trees can grow to be over 100 feet tall and will produce fruit when they get to be about 5 years old.  The casings are really tough and laborious to crack open, but the nutmeats are extremely tasty (they're great for baking).  They stain anything black very easily and often times I find the remains of these scattered around our home, eaten by the thousands of squirrels who love them.


Enjoy the last days of summer everyone! 

~David

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