Greetings from soggy southwestern New Hampshire! High up
on a hill, we are snug and warm and grateful. At the bottom
of the hill, sections of roads and bridges are washed away
and many homes have flooded with water. Houses not very far
away have been swept into the river. The rain began a week
ago and hasn't stopped yet. More than 10" fell from
Saturday into Sunday, torrential rains that caused the flooding.
It's a lot lighter now, and is predicted to finally pass
Ralph was swept into our brook helping out an elderly neighbor
Sunday morning. We'd lost power and Sam wanted to leave to
return to his city home but was concerned about crossing
the small bridge from his home. Sam's house is circa 1860
(the setting is classic New England "Over the River
and Through the Woods"), and the bridge was meant for
carts although cars drive over it now. The brook had swollen
higher than the bridge and when Ralph went to check it out,
the slick, mossy surface provided no friction against the
current and swept him in. He is fine and so is Sam, who waited
for the waters to recede then made it back to the city. I
feel guilty having missed the whole thing. I spent the weekend
in the tender loving care of my parents while I did the Shades
of Autumn Festival at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston.
The rain has put an end to the most amazing growing season
I can remember. Raspberries and blueberries are the best
ever - we've picked more than 700 pints of raspberries and
hundreds of pounds of blueberries! Even though we'll lose
a hundred pints or so of raspberries and a smaller amount
of blueberries to this week of rain, it's been such a tremendous
year of luscious berries I am completely happy and totally
grateful. The summer crop of Taylors yielded more than 400
pints, and the Autumn Heritage another 300 pints of beautiful,
We picked the Damson Plums the second week of September
and have made Tweedledum's
Damson Plum Preserve at least three times already and
should have plenty through Christmas and into the New Year.
Peppers did well too, although not as well as last year's
season which was extraordinarily bountiful. Since we're growing
them for Mad Hatter's Pepper Preserve as well as JazzBerry,
we need more than ever and I've augmented the freezer with
some from Elaine and Tom.
Tomatoes came early this year and petered out early as well.
We got plenty, though.....
Blackberries were the only surprise this year.....I thought
we'd have millions and overestimated the harvest by several
orders of magnitude. I'm not sure what happened....the catbirds
did seem to spend a lot of time in there - using the wires
we had strung to prop up the blackberry canes as a speedy
lateral highway to the fruit. Of course the catbirds never
eat the complete berry - they leave it for the yellow jackets
to finish off - making the picking even more exciting. Ahh
blackberry picking - retrieving fruits hidden by half inch
thorns in a bed where the weeds are stinging nettles and
yellow jackets think the fruit belongs to them....We did
get some, though....order early if Teddy
Berry Blackberry is your favorite.
Speaking of Teddy, he's GREAT! Doesn't even mind all the
rain because it's not hot - and that great Newfoundland/Chow
coat does get pretty toasty on the warm Autumn days. He still
wakes up singing every morning and is happily indulged with
his peanut butter treats. Ralph watches him like a hawk to
be sure he always has his needs met and keeps his life free
of any stress. Rosie is a bit depressed because of the rain.
We're still walking everyday, but it's not as much fun as
it should be.
I've had a wonderful series of shows - the Dublin Yankee
Craft Show, Garlic and Arts Festival and Tower Hill were
all lovely and lots of fun and so busy that I've been working
like a beaver to keep up. There are only two more Newton
Farmers' Markets! I still haven't made it back to Greenfield
but hope to on the 22nd and 29th. I really love that market.
I realize that, though, I really can't do two farmers' markets
in one week with all the picking and cooking I need to do.
Ralph and our friends Joe and Jeff have now completely dismantled
the old house and salvaged everything they could. They'll
build a tool shed/tractor shed on the site. It's so nice
to look across from the herb gardens to the new raspberries
along where the house used to be. Joe became the real hero
of the blueberry harvest, picking some every day so that
almost the whole planting has been harvested.
One evening in late August I had a revelation I'll share.
I was relaxing with a g&t, looking over at my favorite
row of Taylor raspberries, noticing the catbirds darting
to and fro pecking at the last of the berries. I didn't begrudge
them any, after all, I had already picked plenty, but I was
irritated with them for stealing my blackberries. Finches
then took my attention, frolicking in the cutting garden
pecking at the seeds of the gaillardia which had gone by.
I realized that if I were growing the gaillardia for seeds
instead of for cutting, I wouldn't think they were so cute.
And, if I were growing the raspberries for leaf for tea,
I wouldn't mind if the catbirds ate the berries. It's all