Autumn is almost done. It approached rather suddenly and with my brother and his wife departing at the start of it I did not feel prepared to do justice to the harvest this year. The garden needs attention. Due to circumstances, it was not possible to stay on top of maintenance and plant care. Yet plenty has been growing and happening in the garden.
Autumn is the time of year when we review and capitalize on Spring’s promises. Of course, there is a good amount of hard labour that needs to happen before said capitalization can happen and as mentioned not nearly enough of that has happened during summer. But nature has been forgiving and a good amount of hard work lay ahead.
Hard work and a good amount of pain. Like when I got stung by one of our docile honey bees when we were harvesting our second lot of honey in as many weeks. But then even a docile bee is going to react when going for a fast ride on the inside of a flapping pant leg. No time to react or find the stinger; the best I can do is to pick the poor bee off my sock and proceed. “You should have worn your work boots” Martin reprimanded me!
The sting is particularly painful and I know I will react to it to some degree, but I cannot leave Martin to finish off the work as the bees are starting to protest at the speed at which we were trying to work. The bees have been so prolific that there is quite a mountain of honey to harvest and extracting the frames from the hives are merely step one in the process. So we proceed to take out frames, carefully remove the bees and put the frames in a waiting crate at speed (in order to avoid persistent bees from reclaiming their property inside the chest)
This year’s honey harvest has brought in about 70kg of honey and the honey is beautiful with notes of lavender, rosemary and grapes!
There was also a good harvest of olives waiting. And I was planning to speed through the first picking by focussing on the larger green olives for curing. We were planning to pick the rest for olive oil as we have joined a local co-op where everyone contributes what olives they have and receive an equivalent percentage in oil after pressing. That did not happen, unfortunately, as all kinds of other responsibilities intruded, so these olives are still hanging on the trees and I will attempt another harvest for curing. This time very ripe black olives!
But everything is not about speed and getting as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time. My sister-in-law had some things to teach me about the whole hard work side of things before they left. Hard work does not exclude reflection, joy and the art of being present in the moment. How can you let an opportunity to smell the roses slip by? Well, lavender in this case, but the exact same point.
We were about to propagate some lavender. I had a half hour free and used the words” “Lets fly in and get this done – I am sure we can have 30 little stalks cut and planted in 30 minutes” Amanda’s response? “What’s the fun in that? How do we enjoy that? I was looking forward to feeling and smelling the plants and letting the sun gently toast my skin while we carefully select each stalk, smell it and caress it before inserting it into its new home…” She caught me off guard and speechless for a moment. But then her words penetrated. I guess we can do it the productive way or the meaningful way. The world is way too much about output and production already and isn’t the whole idea of our life here about connecting to nature and going at it a bit slower? Yet the meaningful way is no less productive. I have half a greenhouse filled with propagated plants and a hedge of propagated geraniums and spek plants we planted before Amanda and Noel started their long journey back home at the beginning of March.
We were also looking to harvest some corn and grapes this year. Spring’s promise regarding the corn was not prolific but the grapevines were covered in buds. But then there is also the matters of risks and appropriate mitigations. This was left undone as there was not enough time and energy to really focus on this as well. So in this instance we had mysterious critters who laid our corn stalks and grape bunches bare! Not a single corn kernel or grape berry in sight. Just the stark nakedness of said stalks against a windless blue sky. Poetic maybe, even darkly artistic, but devastating all the same.