Friday, October 9, 2015

It's the woolly season!!

The season of gardening has come to an end and the first frosts have become a fact. The harvests are done, the fields are empty once more.... No more (fulltime or paid) work, but a lot of free time, a long to-do-list and plenty of woods all around us.... And time to bring out all the woolly good stuff! Blankets and sweaters and hats and mittens and socks and shawls...... Nothing more comfy than those things to cloth yourself with and wrap yourself in, feeling all snuggly and warm.

During the last few weeks we had to deal with some crises and a trip to Tallinn, Estonia came as a big relieve to the constant and mounting pressure. It made it possible for my wife and me to be away from it all, without kids or household, for the first time in 14 years. And that was very necessary too!
What can I say of this trip and Tallinn. It was a boattrip; leaving friday afternoon, spending the night on board, reaching Tallinn in the morning, spending the day there, back on board by 18:00 and sail back home to arrive on sunday morning. Nothing spectacular or woodsman-ish, but quite relaxing.
My summerjob allowed us to not having to turn every penny 4 times before spending it, so good food, drinks and some goodies for the kids, all 3 of them got real woollen slippers for the winter, and a small taxfree contribution to the liquor cabinet were not such big issues as usually.
The city itself; what we saw if it is still very much marked by 50 years of soviet oppression, grim and grey, but the old city centre is quite nice and has a great atmosphere. It reminded us both of the innercity of Maastricht for instance and we realised how much we missed that; strolling through such an old centre, having a cup of coffee or a good meal somewhere in a cosy café or restaurant, the burgundian life that we used to know in the south of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The view from the diningtable on the way out...

Checking out a logcabin with peatroof. Something like this would make a great "mancave" or guesthouse back home...

And visiting a Russian othodox church.... I had never seen anything like this in real life and I must say it was quite impressive, not just architecturally...

Now things like this... those we have seen before! It immediately reminded me of the castles we visited in Germany for example and that might not be surprising. The whole innercity has quite an old European feel about it.

We visited one of the vantage points in the old city and there was this gull..... This gull was quite big and he was not afraid of anyone and I took the opportunity to study it up close. And I had another opportunity when we sailed back into Stockholm harbour. There were gulls riding aircurrents, right next to where we stood and we could get a good look at them, as they seemed to just be suspended in mid air, their bodies perfectly streamlined for riding those airwaves.... I am always in awe to see nature's perfect designs!!

<-----  My interest...

     My wife's interest ----->
That is all woolstuff. Felted 'n all....

A very tiny shop entrance and a huge coffee pot...

The sunset as we were headfing home and the sunrise as we entered the Stockholm archipelago. As wonderful piece of scenery..... ruined by the many holiday residences that littered every shoreline...

This year's harvest was not the pleasure it was the years before. The first weeks were chilly and above all wet, then came a week with fine weather and the last week was simply stonecold. Should I harbour any romantic feelings about farming/harvesting.... then these are gone. But I still do love it.
I love doing physical work, I love doing decent, honest and meaningful work and I love being outside while I work. Looking at the landscape and all therein is just one ongoing joy.
This year's harvest also had some surprises in store, some gifts the earth released. At one point the harvester brought up a shed deer's antler and when we completed the loop and took the row next to the first one, the harvester coughed up the matching other one! How big are the odds??? A deer shedding both antlers at the same time and me finding them??
Another goodie, besides a horseshoe and some other horse related metal items, was an old axehead. What was so noticeable was the narrow axe blade, the extension down the shaft, known as the axe-lip, and the triangular hole at the top, known as the axe-eye. I will try to clean them up a bit and keep them as decorations in my room. Cool stuff to find and muse about....

As usual I like to watch the wildlife around the fields; roedeer mainly and of course birds. The tofsvipor/lapwings are a special treat: the sun reflects on their white bellies as they elegantly fly in flocks across the fields, almost looking as if they are performing an aerial ballet and this year there were groups of them gathered in the fields we harvested. One group had 2-3 adults and many young ones, lacking the large plume on their head. We passed them by at about 2 meters and they did not move!!
I also regularly watched falcons as the swooped across the fields, looking for anything edible we scared away.

And on the last day we were being treated to the most spectacular sunrise I have seen in a very long time. While we were busy sorting potatoes, standing on the harvester, the sun came up. There was a small strip of clear sky just where the sun rose over the horizon and it was as if someone used a huge bucket and just poured sunlight over us. It grew ever brighter real quick and we literally bathed in it. A glorious and wonderful moment. After that the day turned grey again quickly.

Back at home I have been treated on a wonderful display of the northern lights under a crystal clear sky filled with a sparkling starry sky, while standing at the lakeshore. It was cold, freezing and it was the last round walking the dog that day. This was the first time that I actually saw the northern lights since we moved here and I watched in awe as the green rays gently flickered across the sky, looking as if they came from the hills on the other side of the lake, which was calm enough to see the light mirrored in it. True natural magic.....

We have also been reconsidering the whole issue around Rex. To me it felt just plain wrong to let him go and I know the others felt that even more so. Yes, it would be the most practical thing to do, but.... He has become a member of this family and he has found his way to us for a reason. Relocating him, just because we felt he did not fit in (or because it was inconvenient) just was..... y'know...
So maybe instead of him completely adjusting to us, we should try to also adjust to him. He is just who he is; an energetic Alaskan husky with separation anxiety. So maybe we should just accept that and work with that, using his inbred skills to our mutual joy and benefit.
So he is staying and we will take a closer look at what HE needs in order to fit in and thrive. One thing we already did, was get him his own "backpack", so that will mean much more woodstime. I am also looking into a decent sled and harness for him, hoping we can afford one. We also need to fence off a part of the garden, so he can be out, when he wants to. We are even thinking about getting a buddy for him! Yes, extending our pack and who knows? We might just end up with our own "sledteam"! A trip to the library provided me with some readingmaterial for the very basics.

Yes, the season of gardening has come to an end, but with the gift of self grown food, too. Our vegetablegarden did not turn out a lot this year. How could it? But what it gave us was good! And made us feel satisfied.

We were able to harvest a few veggies and a handful of freshly picked green beans, a bushel of small carrots and a surprising yield of potatoes formed the basis for one good meal. Bacon, sausages, fresh spinach, herbs and shredded cheese on top did the rest. The kale and the other half of the potatoes and typical dish we had a lot back in the Netherlands; boerenkool stamppot met rookworst (kale/potato mash with smoked sausage). The sausage was sent to us by a Dutch friend from long ago, who also moved to Sweden, unfortunately 500km away from us to the south.
However the garden gave us something equally valuable too; a lot of lessons learned.
Slugs were a problem this wet summer. The beans and courgettes were devoured. So we have to take measures against that next year; no place for them to shelter during the day near the growing beds and deterring plants in those. The carrots need to be thinned out even more rigorously in order to grow big. Broccoli should not be sown before midsummer, otherwise it will go into flower real quick.
The main surprise were the potatoes though. In spring we had a handful of shrivelled and sprouting, ecologically grown potatoes. I just cut them in half, stuck them into the ground and only weeded the worst of the weeds. The result? More than half a bucket of the finest potatoes you can think of! The species in question are called "maestro"...

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! I can feel your enthusiasm in every word. I liked every part but the part about the deer shed made me think of the days of my youth when I went out in the spring fields after a rain and looked for Indian artifacts with my dad. My dad said, "It fascinates me to think that I am the first person to hold this and that the last person to hold it was a Native American. Who was he? What was his story?"

    OK so the US has impossibly beautiful natural wonders (Grand Canyon, desert regions) but Europe has impossibly beautiful and interesting architecture. We just haven't live here long enough and while we've lived here for the last 100 years no one has really built anything of the caliber of the old artisans of Europe. When I was in France, Switzerland, Spain and elsewhere I was just so enthralled by it all.