Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple Festival 2013

Our second day on Saltspring Island was spent enjoying the annual Apple Festival. We've gone for 5 years now and fall never really seems to truly start for me until we've attended the Apple Festival. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed sharing this particular festival with April. This year she seemed to understand more and enjoy more herself.

The weather was less than stellar but from time to time the rain took a break and we were able to shed some layers. April marveled at the different sizes and colors of all the apples on display at the community hall. "Oh look. Dis one is a baby" and "Whoa! Dis is a really big one." could be heard frequently as we walked through the display. She didn't quite understand though that the apples on display were not for her eating pleasure.

We visited as many farms as we could before we were due at the ferry terminal. We stopped by Apple Luscious, Bees N' Teas, Saltspring Bread Company, Saltspring Island Brewery, Harbour House and Saltspring Island Cheeseworks. April adored the visit to the cheeseworks (and so did I). The goats are sweet and the chickens are hilarious. The people are kind and the cheese is outstanding. We left with a yummy lunch of cheese and olives and headed for the ferry.

It was a wet and wonderful day. Giving thanks to the farmers, the animals, the bees, the trees and all the bounty of nature we enjoyed that year. Fall can officially begin!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Saltspring and Storms

We took a weekend getaway to Saltspring Island, just in time for the first fall storm it seems. It was raining when we left but we were determined to enjoy ourselves regardless of the weather. After all, we were raised on the west coast, we are no strangers to rain and wind. So as long as our many rain layers held up, we were out taking in all we could.

We had hoped the rain would let up enough for us to visit the Saturday market. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the wind had picked up so most vendors were on their way home. Jon managed to snag some baked goodies before they were packed away. We figured our best bet was to get out of the rain for a bit and get some lunch. Normally we always enjoy the Treehouse Cafe. They have good food for good prices and they have gluten-free options for April. However, when it is windy and rainy the Treehouse Cafe is a cold and wet place to have a meal. We were lucky to snag a table next to the heater but we were still shivering by the time our food arrived. Sometimes you just need to laugh it off and carry on.

We made our way to the farm we were staying at. April was more than happy to simply jump in puddles all afternoon. I, on the other hand, wanted to wander in their amazing garden. It is honestly so beautiful and exactly what I would love to have on my own property some day. Even with the rain, the herb beds smelled amazing. Their greens, carrots and leeks all looked so healthy and ready for the plate. Jon and I both stood by their beds and marveled at their amazing cold cover system. Convenient, effective and aesthetically pleasing; it really was impressive.

The farm also had sheep, chickens and goats. The sheep were definitely shy (as most sheep are) and we not at all impressed with the enthusiastic toddler I brought to the pasture. The chickens were sad, drenched messes but were very happy to socialize. April stood and chattered away to them, just as she does with our own chickens. To my disappointment, the goats (very pretty goats at that) were not as tolerant of the rain as we were and refused to leave their shed. When it comes to animal visits, the rain can prove very disappointing.

We finished our day with a local ingredient meal on the farm and some jazz preformed live by local musicians. Briefly, in the middle of our meal, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared. Sitting there, eating local mussels, watching my daughter dance to dinner jazz and pausing to admire the rainbow, was the perfect way to end the day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Had Cake

It just celebrated another birthday. I admit that in the month of craziness, I often forget my birthday. This year I found myself giving in to that child-like excitement. Not for presents or cake but for a special evening with my family.

My mom made me my favorite meal and made me a cake. April was so excited about the cake. She was thrilled to bits when we let her put the candles on then blow them out. Her excitement was contagious. It was the first time in a while that I felt truly joyous looking at a cake full of candles. I'm just glad we don't do a candle for each year anymore.

It felt so natural to be around my family. No balloons or loud music. We just reflected on that special day so many years ago. The day that my mother and father became parents for the first time, the day I first laid eyes on them, the day their hearts grew. We reflected on the past year and chattered away about all the things to come in my next year. Now that I am a mother myself, I have a new appreciation for birthdays. April's never passes without me remembering her birth day and now mine doesn't pass without me saying thanks for my mother on my birth day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Still Harvesting

Usually around this time of year I start to feel like visiting my garden less and less. Perhaps I'm exhausted from perpetual weeding or perhaps I long to hunker down and knit or perhaps I start to forget that I still have many things growing out there. Whatever the reason, neglect tends to set in as the days grow shorter. After a week long break from the garden, I walked out there and came back with a large basket of veggies.

That basket was full of zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes (of all kinds), delicata squash, chilies and pumpkins. There are still many tomatoes still ripening, not a single fairy squash is ready, pumpkins still on the vine, butternut, cabbage, kale, carrots, zucchini, chilies and grapes. I'm still holding out hope that I might get a few edible stalks of brussel sprouts. They have been in since April so it's been a tough year for them. The grapes are slowly ripening but sadly recent rains have caused many to split. Those that do make it off the vine seem to go directly into April's mouth.

All the pears were harvested and shared as well as the blackberries (though none of us could really keep up with them). All our apples were harvested and juiced. We have frozen 40L of organic juice for the winter. It wasn't a great year for our apples. We had a bad problem with blight, many were unusable so they were trashed. Thankfully my parents shared their apple harvest to complete our juicing order.

It looks as though I will not have a winter garden this year. I simply was not prepared and planned my space poorly for winter planting. I will plant some radishes and green onions and I hope that my kale will over winter as it did last year. I will also be planting several rows of garlic. We were so pleased with our garlic harvest this year that I think we will try to duplicate it's success next year. Thankfully we have a freezer (or two) full of garden goodies and a pantry of canned treats to get us through the winter.

Friday, September 6, 2013

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama