cool days, long nights

garlic

I am finally feeling that glorious feeling of reaping what you sow. I have been sowing and sowing (and weeding and tending and sweating) and not getting a darn thing out of it except extreme exhaustion and frustration (and a little blueberry here and there). But it’s like nature flipped a switch and said “Okay, I’m ready to pay out now.” Thank GOD. I don’t know how much more I could take.

Yesterday I harvested the garlic. Gigantic bulbous beautiful garlics the size of my fist. Over 100 of them which should last us until spring (unless Eric goes on a real garlic kick as he does mid-winter. It’s then I start hiding garlic away. Stashing it like a squirrel in the cupboards and places he won’t think to look).

Then I pulled the second of three plots of onions. I wasn’t crazy about the performance of the first plot. It was a new red onion variety called Red River and they didn’t do so well in our climate. Most of them grew to the size of the garlic and then quit. Flopped their top growth over and gave up. I used to grow a red onion named Red Zeppelin. I grew it for the name alone (I was obsessed with Robert Plant in college and had posters of him (in tight pants) plastered on my walls like he was a teen idol and I was a teen). But despite my shallowness, Red Zeppelin turned out to be an incredible variety. It grew really well in my soil. But then I found out it was owned by Monsanto. Total bummer and an insult to Robert Plant himself. So I’ve been seeking a replacement red storage onion ever since.

onion

This second plot of onions was growing in the plot next to the reds. When a crop doesn’t do well I instantly blame myself. “I didn’t amend that plot enough,” or “I knew that spot was too shady.” So I was under the assumption that these yellow Copra storage onions weren’t going to do well either. But when I harvested them yesterday they were beautiful. The size of my fist with my other hand wrapped around it. Some even bigger than that. They’re hanging in the shed to dry for a week and then I’ll braid them and hang them in the kitchen. All told this year I grew 225 onions (I’ve still got another plot yet to harvest).

Remember the year I grew 500 onions? That was insane. And completely unnecessary. We ate an onion (at least one) every single day and by the time March came my perspiration reeked of pungent aliums. 

carrot-family

Then I checked on the carrots. Some of them had started to show their shoulders over the dirt. An indication that they’re pretty much done growing. I could have left them but I didn’t want to risk them being chewed up by carrot beetles. So I pulled one and it was like that magic trick where the magician is pulling the scarves out of his hat and they just keep coming. This carrot was huge! 3/4 the length of my forearm and as wide as my wrist. I pulled another, and another. They were all this way. I harvested 40 (only half of the plot was ready) of the most beautiful, perfect carrots I have ever SEEN let alone grown myself. My go-to carrot variety is Scarlet Nantes -which I can not say to save my life. Nan-tes or Nan’ts? I don’t know. I grow them. I eat them. I love them. This was the first year I really amended the heck out of my carrot plot. Dug in real deep to give them plenty of space to stretch their roots. And I thinned the heck out of them. Weeding, scissoring, and pinching the extra carrots that were growing so that there was only one carrot every 4 inches or so. Carrots are naughty. If you plant them too close they like to cuddle up with their neighbor, resulting in oddly human body shaped carrots with arms and legs all intertwined and twisted. It’s funny, but not what I’m going for. I like my carrots to be serious.

ghost-house

And finally I’m putting together all of the rewards for the people who donated to our campaign -which is over and I’m grateful. I have a new appreciation for politicians who have to raise millions of dollars. Actually, I used to think they were crazy. Now I think they’re REALLY crazy. Raising money is stressful. For a long time it was lots of making spreadsheets and allocating funds and all the serious carrot stuff. Now I’m on to the fun bits, like sewing album covers.

Even last week I felt housebound. I sat in front of my computer, switching back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator, designing stickers and posters and album art. I needed to stretch constantly. I’d get up and try to rub out the tightness in my back on the corner of a doorjam. I felt like a cat. I would stare out the window at the blownout July garden. Everything that once was tender and fresh and green had taken on a burnt-out hue. And I felt pretty burnt-out myself. But now that I’m harvesting and compiling packages I’m feeling a renewed vigor.

Of course the serious stuff isn’t finished yet. When Eric gets home from work we have dinner and then listen to the mixes the producer sent us. We sit in the recording nook and listen. Then we move to the dining room table to take notes, listening to the songs again. We take detailed notes. Second by second notes about levels that need adjusting, effects that need to be added or taken away, instruments that should be there or not  there.

sewing-ghost-house

It’s hard to talk about music. It’s like a painter talking about their brush strokes. This process kind of feels like we made a painting (or a series of 12 paintings really) and then handed them to someone else who is now looking at our paintings and trying to replicate them. He knows what color paints we used. He knows what brushes we used and what canvas. But something about his replications aren’t exactly right all of the time and we need to explain that there’s supposed to be a brush stroke here, or that brush stroke should be a series of tiny little brush strokes instead of one large brush stroke. But sometimes, a lot of the times, we look at his replication and say “Yes! That is exactly what we intended. Except we used the cheap paint from Ocean State Job Lot and the $2 canvas from the craft store and you went to a high-end art supply store (and you’re really good at painting).”

We do this until nearly 11:00, when we both look frazzled and we feel like we can no longer tell the difference between delay and reverb. A conversation we had last night went something like this: “I think it’s reverb.” “I think it’s delay…listen to my voice it goes o-we-o-we-o-we…do you hear it?” “No.” “Listen o-we-o-we-o…  can you hear it now?” “I think so…no. Maybe. I don’t know.” I imagined someone walking in on that conversation and just started laughing to myself. Kind of like when Eric started laughing at me last night when I explained in great detail about the section of the Iditarod that I’m currently racing. And by currently racing I mean, reading a book about.

So you can see why I’m so tired. By day I’m harvesting serious carrots the size of my forearm and by night I’m racing the Iditarod. It’s enough to wear a girl out.

PS When my mom asked me what I was harvesting I told her essentially what I wrote here. Then she asked if I’d taken pictures of everything. But of course, I hadn’t. The carrots were already stripped of their tops and nestled securely into old plastic bread bags, layered in the crisper drawer to keep until April, May, or as soon as we eat them all. The onions were hanging in the shed, or in bushel baskets. The garlic was layed out to dry on the side porch. And I couldn’t be bothered to haul out my camera to capture any of it. So these pictures you see are from harvests of years past. This years garlic is bigger than pictured, while the onions are a bit smaller. And the carrots are like two or three or four times the size of those tiny things. Long live the Nan’ts! (or Nan-tes).

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