Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tall in the Fall: Kansas Prairie

After we left Kentucky we made a hard and fast push towards Colorado.  After all, we'd been across the Mid-west before, and knew that it was (for the most part) hot, flat and boring.  We did decide to make one side trip in the Flint Hills of  Kansas to stop at the National Tall Grass Prairie Preserve.  After reading the Little House series, The Woodsman has really been fascinated with the pioneers, and I was eager to see the fabled grass as tall as a man on horseback.  Also, I'd read that the TGPP had great living history, so we thought it would be well worth the trip.

It's hard to do big cities when you're camping and hauling a trailer.  Don't worry - we've been up the arch before.
As we drove closer and closer to the preserve I found myself wondering... where was the grass?  If it was really that tall, shouldn't I be seeing some?  The Flint Hills were beautiful - but where was the grass????

When we walked into the visitor's center and saw the first display I realized my error.  Oops -
"Tall in the Fall".  Well, that explained it.  We were there in June.  Also, the living history areas were mostly closed due to reconstruction.  Obviously, this was one area where my pre-trip research was lacking.

The day wasn't a total bust though.   There was a great old school (even as a grown up middle schooler The Girl still loves being able to play school), and we saw some beautiful flowers and butterflies.  But, overall, a disappointment.

The Woodsman and I agreed that we'll return here another year in the fall - we'd still like to see that grass.

Friday, November 7, 2014

So Long October - Welcome November

Over the past several years I have decided that, while I love the festivals and fun traditions of October, by the time we get to Halloween I'm craving the peace and serenity of November.

Mostly, the weather is dreary.  I like that.  Today, when the sunshine came out briefly I found myself feeling a bit disappointed. November is not a time to be out; it's time to be in, so let it rain.

 I look forward to warm sweaters, comfy tights and cozy skirts.  I want the pop and crackle of a wood fire and the warm you to the bone feeling that only comes from radiant heat.  I want hearty soups and stews simmering in the crock pot.  I want blankets, and fleece robes, and flannel sheets.  I want darkness, so I can savor the homey light inside.

November, before the cold gets so raw we can't stand it anymore.  November, when snow is still a rare, fleeting, delight.  November, no big Holiday, no big stress, just a time to Give Thanks and reflect on all the blessings in my life.

Despite it's busy nature, October really was wonderful.  We have so many delightful times with family and friends.

Campfires - just us around the fire on the last few pleasant nights of the fall.  Hot Dogs and S'mores make for simple, and inexpensive Friday nights.

For more years than I can count, we've been making caramel apples with some of our favorite friends.  Really, the kids just lick off the caramel - most of the fun is in the creation.  However, I think it's the easiest dessert I prepare all year.

The annual Fall Campout and Bonfire was much smaller this year - we mostly stuck to inviting the kid's friends and family.  After having had such a busy summer, a smaller, more relaxing weekend was perfect.  But, as the boy said, "This year was a little too small."  I think we'll be back to our bigger party next year.

The girl's tent was quiet long before lights out.  They were reading and talking quietly together.

The boy's tent was a different story - it stank.  They spent most of the time before they went to sleep having farting contests.  I will never understand boys - but they seemed to have a blast. 
 We visited a different pumpkin patch this year, and only picked up two.  Since we've been getting our produce from the CSA, I didn't feel compelled to squirrel away big Hubbard squash and Cinderella pumpkins.  The kids needed very little help this year with their Halloween preparations.  I helped rescue one carving boo boo, and I fixed the devil horns.  Otherwise, it was their own show.

We had a great soccer coach this year, and a really hard working team.  Coach surprised everyone with trophies at the end of the season.  We had a great final game too.  It was wonderful to see all of the kids grow and develop their skills.

We made a few apple dumplings and put them in the freezer for cold snowy evenings.  Apple dumplings were the last of my very limited processing list for the fall.  Now, I can enjoy all of November and enter Advent with (hopefully) a clean house and a rested spirit.

This weekend is the first weekend with absolutely no plans since May.  I've been absolutely giddy about it all week.  I love being social, and I love traveling.  But for now, I'm glad to be hunkered down inside enjoying the last of the fall views on the mountain while catching up on all the small projects that have been needling at me for weeks.  The weekend's menu is full of simple foods perfect for fall:  sweet potato waffles and sausage, cranberry beans and kale, red lentil curry, raisin bran muffins, peanut butter vegetable soup.  Food for the body and for the soul.

How about you?  Are you making time for yourself?  Are you giving yourself the gift of an empty calendar weekend?  We may not go dormant in the winter, but as the months get colder winter is a perfect time to stay in, recharge, reconnect and reflect.  Happy hibernating everyone!