The weather has changed. In the morning, heavy dew beads the grass. Spider webs grow ever larger. I cling to summer, but she is slipping from my grasp, her face turned away as if no longer interested in me.
The marine air moving in has cleared some of the forest fire smoke from the city. This photo was taken on Sunday, before the smoke thickened, stinging eyes and throats, and causing health officials to warn against outdoor exercise.
Last night was particularly bad as the marine air pushed the smoke from further north down our way. Around bedtime it smelled as if the neighbourhood was on fire. I read a notice that fire officials asked people not to call unless flames were visible.
This morning I can see faint bits of blue behind the haze, and I am thankful. I can breathe deeply without smoke catching in my throat. However, the situation has not changed with regards to the fires themselves. We desperately want rain. A few sprinkles are in the forecast for the weekend, but not the long dampening wet that is needed.
Apples are falling from our two trees. Yesterday I made applesauce and canned it for the winter.
In my garden, tomatoes ripen red and round on the vines. Once bitten, a burst of sun-flavoured sweetness fills my mouth, better than candy. I roasted a tray of these little ones yesterday and could hardly stop from eating them all before dinner.
The green beans are nearly finished, but I continue to pick one or two slender green zucchinis every couple of days. The butternut squash is growing fat and yellow.
In a burst of energy yesterday, after processing the applesauce, I decided to make a double batch of salsa. I purchased roma tomatoes from the market and began chopping - first dipping the tomatoes into boiling water so that that the peel slipped off without effort. Onions, green peppers, jalapeño peppers, garlic, herbs and spices simmered long and slow. At 10 pm, with all the salsa in jars and lids on, I stopped and put the remaining jars in the fridge to process this morning.
Concord grapes slowly colouring.
My grandmothers and their mothers before them preserved food for the winter. My mother still does, and she taught me. There is a deep sense of satisfaction in practicing this art. It connects me to my past, and to the seasons. Preserving food is something humans have done forever. When I prepare food myself, I know the source of the ingredients, and exactly what has gone into the product. In addition, is there anything prettier than rows of canned fruit, tomatoes, jams, pickles and more on shelves in the basement?
I prefer to eat seasonally - fresh strawberries when local ones are available, otherwise frozen. A tomato tastes like cardboard in January and can't compare to one in August, so why bother?
Our neighbour's thornless blackberry vine hangs heavy with fruit on our side of the fence. They must be picked at just the right moment, too soon and they are sour, too late and they turn to mush in my hand.
Perhaps it's the back-to-school feeling, but once the end of August comes, I feel like autumn is knocking at the door. Still, September is a beautiful month of crisp mornings and sunny days mingled with rainy ones. Next week I begin work again, the students begin classes after the first weekend in September. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the summer that's left.
Do you preserve food? Is summer drawing to a close where you live?
Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.