Happy October! While the days are shorter and the leaves are changing color, the temperature says summer. The temperature Sunday reached 92F/33.3C, shattering the record of 87F/30.5C from 1897. It was also the hottest day ever recorded in October, breaking the record of 90F/32C from October 3, 1997 and October 10, 1928. And it was quite humid. The combination of heat and humidity prompted officials to cancel the Twin Cities Marathon Sunday morning, which explains why the roads we thought were going to be closed when we left very early for grocery shopping were not closed. That really stinks for all the runners, but safety is far more important.
We just finished the warmest September on record, and it appears the weather is off to a good start for warmest October ever. Yay.
But at least we have been getting rain. We got poured on Tuesday during the week. I biked to work in a thunderstorm. It was glorious. And more rain fell Friday night. The rain barrels are full to the brim. I haven’t had to water anything in the garden for over a week. We have more rain in the forecast for Tuesday/Wednesday when a cool front is expected to come in and push out this heat.
I went out to the garden to hang laundry to dry Saturday and paused in the morning sun. All of the bright yellow arugula flowers bobbed with visiting bees. Bees on the hyssop too, and on the asters. Bees on the Jerusalem artichoke flowers and in the zucchini flowers and morning glories. The joy was palpable. I called James to come out and look. We stood on the deck watching and grinning from ear to ear.
I received the first 2024 garden catalog in the mail, trees, shrubs and perennials from Fedco. Yes, I devoured it. Not literally. But now I’m wondering if I should get a quince tree? Since paw paws are too marginal to risk, a quince with its alleged citrusy-pineapple notes, might do just fine. Relatively small, hardy in my zone, the catalog says self-fertile but plant two for higher yields. I have no room for two. How much will one tree produce? Elderberries are self-fertile but plant two for higher yields and I get pints and pints of jam from one tree-shrub. Plenty for my household. Is this the case with quince too?
I looked at the co-op today for quince jam, hoping to try it. They don’t sell it so I have no way to try it first. But really, I’m sure I’d love it. Do I order a quince? Anyone have one and have advice to offer? It’s a spendy tree, sent through the mail, and will take several years before developing fruit. Not someone I want to regret inviting into the garden, so if anyone has quince experience to share, please do!
One of the plusses of the weather continuing warm is that I can still go barefoot in the garden. Up until this spring I always put my garden boots on, but this year, after reading about how important it is to touch the earth with our skin, I decided to start going barefoot.
When I was a kid I ran barefoot around the entire neighborhood all summer. I was frequently cursed with stubbed toes, but that didn’t make me think I needed to put on shoes, only that I needed to be more careful when running on the sidewalk. I have wide feet and grew up before one could find shoes for wide feet in regular stores. Every year for school shopping I had to go to the “special” shoe store to buy blocky ugly brown shoes while my sister always seemed to get to wear the exact shoes I wanted most but couldn’t have. So I hate shoes. I still do.
But at a certain point going barefoot all the time is frowned on unless you are a Hobbit, which, sadly, I am not. I put on shoes like a grown up to go out into the world, and as soon as I get home, I release my feet from their prison.
And with a garden, well, one needs to protect one’s feet while grubbing around in the dirt just as one needs to protect one’s hand with gloves. And those gloves are usually always too big for me because I have small hands. Even women’s size small gloves generally have an extra half to a quarter inch of glove past the tips of my fingers.
I did find some gloves that fit this year and they are quite good. But I only wear them if I am doing heavy garden work like pruning or grabbing potentially prickly things. And shoes, only if I am going to be going out to the chickens because who wants to inadvertently get chicken poo between her toes? Or, if I am going to be doing heavy garden work.
At first my feet said ouch ouch ouch! They had become so tender. But now, unless I step on a rock or stick, I’ve built up some callus. The damp ground after all the rain feels glorious between my toes, much better than the dry sandy soil that the summer drought inflicted on us. I’m in the process of putting down wood chips on all the garden paths as I reconfigure the garden beds from weird and wavy to straight (it seems the straight beds with narrow paths between are going to give me more planting space!). I’m not sure how walking on wood chips will be, maybe not comfortable. Definitely, slower and more cautious. Perhaps by spring next year the winter will have decomposed the wood chips enough so they are softer and more walkable.
- Book: Astrotopia: the dangerous religion of the corporate space race by Mary-Jane Rubenstein. I mentioned a few weeks ago listening to a podcast interview with Rubenstein and now I have read her book. It’s really good! She looks at the language of “New Space” and how it couches its objectives in religion but it’s all about money and colonialism. America’s Manifest Destiny rhetoric is alive and well.
- News: Sycamore Gap Tree. The tree, thought to be over 300 years old, was murdered last Wednesday. A teenager has been arrested and released on bail. Friday a retired lumberjack was arrested and is also out on bail. He and a number of people on his behalf are claiming he’s innocent. It seems authorities aren’t entirely certain who actually cut down the tree or why. It is clear, however, that people are angry and in deep mourning over the tree’s death.
- Book: Carpe Jugulum by Terry Practchett. Just started in on another Discworld witch book read aloud by James.
- Podcast: Movement Memos: To Fight Big Tech, We Must Seize the Means of Computation. Interview with Cory Doctorow who has just published a new book called The Internet Con.
- Podcast: Talk Easy: The Transformations of Novelist Z. An interview with Zadie Smith who has a lovely voice to listen to on a podcast.
- Movie: Barbie. I really enjoyed this movie. The meta narrative was hilarious and Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie was a hoot. I played with Barbie when I was a kid. My Barbie was stereotypical Barbie, she was the only one back then. I did not have a Ken or a Skipper. My dad brought home a well loved Barbie camper from the swap meet one weekend and my sister and I thought we were so lucky! Barbie’s swimming pool was a big bowl from my mom’s kitchen. My Barbie didn’t have much of a high fashion wardrobe. Her clothes were expensive and if it was between Barbie clothes or a book, the book won nine times out of ten. Kind of like now, do I get a new pair of pants or this new book? I’ll mend the pants. Book wins! Some things never change. But also, because I didn’t have money for fancy Barbie clothes, I learned how to sew so I could make my own. And while a Barbie wardrobe that looked like it was sewn by the 8-year-old I was didn’t reach the heights of couture fashion, I did gain some important skills I still use today. I had grown disdainful of Barbie over the years, but after seeing the movie and thinking about my own Barbie experience, I can fondly remember my days of playing Barbies with my sister and best friend.
Hope opens the door to possibility and allows us to envision change, particularly change that we desire. But hope alone will not affect change—that requires movement.Andrew Mellen, “UnStuff Your Life”
James’s Kitchen Wizardry
There were peanut butter cup cupcakes but I didn’t think to take a photo until they were gone.