Here in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, fall has arrived later than usual. This past weekend, we experienced our first cold snap of the season with a bit of snow in the higher elevations. I had been remarking that the colors of the leaves were not as intense as some years; but today as we went about, I realized autumn splendor has arrived.
There are some beautiful trees around town; but as I drove up the mountain this afternoon, the sight was magnificent. Driving up and down the trail, I felt like I was in a colorful kaleidoscope. Even though it was cloudy and a bit foggy, the foliage was glorious!
There is just nothing like Autumn in the mountains! All praise to the Artist, our Creator God!
I am grateful to report that our gardens produced well this year. The green beans and tomatoes have been especially plentiful resulting in a level full deep freeze. We were also able to enjoy lots of fresh lettuce and greens and some carrots. There were enough peas to put some in the freezer and a decent crop of potatoes and onions. Herbs included mint, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and dill. A variety of squash and a few cucumbers were harvested. Peppers are still waiting to be picked. I am hoping they will turn from green to yellow before the first frost. Lima beans are still flowering and filling out in the pods.
At one point in September, when I had run out of room in the freezer and felt we had enough for our purposes, I decided to join our farmer’s market for the day. Farmer’s markets are something I enjoy visiting, but I really love setting up a table. There is a joy in providing a product that other people desire and in sharing knowledge of produce and cooking ideas. People seem to want to share their stories: both customers and vendors talked of life’s sorrows, tough times, and joys. Our daughter came with me, and we had a great day. We had small amounts of beans, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and flowers. We sold some of everything, but the real surprise was the hydrangeas I had cut on a whim. They sold out quickly. Next year, I hope to participate more often in the market.
A few days ago, I noticed the beauty and variety on our cupboard counter. The vegetables came from our gardens, most of the canned goods were a gift, and the nuts, we picked up on the trail. Gracious provision from our Creator!
In September, we attended a work retreat near Cincinnati, Ohio. As one of the learning activities, we visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a fascinating museum of history of that time period. Our guide led us through the highlights of the four floors of the museum. One stop was what appeared to be a tall log cabin. The building was, in fact, a slave pen. The guide informed us that twenty to thirty men and women would have been held there awaiting transport further south. It was a solemn experience to stand inside and remember the horrible injustice that is part of our nation’s history. Another area of the museum depicted types of places in which escaping slaves would hide along the underground railroad. One account is of a man who mailed himself to freedom in a package. For most of his journey he was upside down in the crate. Our youngest got inside the box to experience a bit of the feeling.
During our lunch break, we took a picnic down by the Ohio River where there is fun, interactive park for kids of all ages. The children enjoyed the giant checker board, the keyboard with chimes, the flying pig, the exercise pipes, the large swings, and the water pumps and channels.
The day was beautiful, sunny, and mild. The sky was brilliant blue with puffy white clouds. There were several types of boats on the river.
The suspension bridges were intriguing, and it was fun to walk across one onto the Kentucky side.
It was a great day of learning and experiencing a bit of Cincinnati.
The weather has begun to feel like fall the last few days, and I love it! I have always had a fondness for autumn. I find the cooler temperatures invigorating. There is a different kind of beauty to the season.
Driving up the mountain today, I noticed the great variety of wildflowers blooming: the intense purple of the iron weed, the brilliant yellow of the goldenrod, and the pale pink of the queen of the meadow. There were other kinds I couldn’t identify: two different varieties of delicate violet blossoms, some tiny white ones, and one that looked like a miniature black-eyed Susan.
At camp, the hydrangea bush is blushing pink as its blossoms dry.
While harvesting tomatoes, beans, and carrots, I noticed the sky has begun to look like autumn as well: baby blue with puffy white clouds lying low over the tops of the mountains.
The last week or so when we take our dog Daisy for a walk, I have noticed a sweet scent in the air at several spots along the way. I have determined that it is the kudzu blossoms which are in full bloom right now. The blossoms smell just like Pez candies, the powdery rectangular candies that come in interesting dispensers. In my opinion, there is not much that can be praised about kudzu. We constantly fight to keep it from taking over our yard and house. But I have to say, the blossoms are lovely and smell delectable.
After full weeks of hosting summer volunteer groups, I was feeling spent; so having a time of relaxation and renewal was a blessing. As a family, we experienced spiritual refreshment at Roxbury Holiness Camp, relaxed as we experienced Chincoteague and Assateague, and reconnected with family in a variety of settings.
At the ocean, the children frolicked in the waves both with and without boogie boards and created sandcastles on the beach.
My husband and I enjoyed the water and sitting under an umbrella. There is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves on the seashore.
One morning, we climbed the winding stairs to the top of a lighthouse. The view was amazing. I felt dizzy as we peered over the railing.
After a time away, it feels good to be home. I was so glad to see that the gardens are still producing. We picked green beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, a cucumber, parsley, and various greens. Fourteen quarts of beans were added to the freezer.
Tonight we enjoyed a crock pot meal made of many ingredients from our garden including potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano.
The garden is yielding its bounty. After several harvests, there are twenty-eight quarts of beans in the freezer.
The red beets should have been harvested sooner. Even though they are pretty large, I plan to make some fermented pickled beets with them.
I was going to wait to harvest the carrots, but I decided to pull the ones that were poking up through the wood chips. In the four places we have gardened, I have never grown carrots this long. I am thinking the wood chips really helped to amend the soil.
On July 4, we were invited to a celebration at a fellow church member’s home. After hours of fun including swimming, water sliding, trampoline jumping, music, and socializing, the fireworks show began. It was a fabulous show complete with music, lighted balloons, laser lights, and the longest grande finale I have ever seen.
This morning we went on an outing with some of the summer staff to Gabe’s Branch Falls. The falls are one of those hidden spots that only the locals know exists. To get there, you drive four miles on a gravel road. The stopping spot is unmarked. Then you walk down a bit of a path until you spot the falls. I had been there in my 20’s but had forgotten the beauty of the place. From the top, the pool of water looks quite deep.
After gazing at the water for a bit, we hiked down to the bottom. Someone has built wooden handrails and steps, for which I was grateful because of the steepness of the incline. Even so, the descent was a bit slick due to the night’s rainfall. Upon arriving at the bottom, the water did not look as deep. Although if it had been hot, swimming in it would have been refreshing. Coming from the mountains, I’m sure the water is quite cold.
The children soon found amusement in trying to skip rocks or just plain throwing rocks in the water.
Choosing sticks, collecting unique rocks, and adding to a small rock damn were also interesting activities.
The rush of the falls, the coolness of the air, and just being out in nature was refreshing.