The rush of harvest time came. The oats were ripe, standing thick and tall and yellow. the wheat wasgolden, darke than thte oats. The beans were ripe, and the pumpkings and carrots and turnips and potatoes were ready to gather.
There was not rest and no play for anyone now. They all worked from candlelight to candlelight. Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles, green-tomato pickles, and watermelon-rind pickles; they were drying corn and apples, and making preserves. Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer’s bounty. Even the apple cores were saved for making vinegar, and a bundle of oat straw was soaking on the back porch. Whenever mother had one minute to spare, she braided an inch or two of oat-straw braid for making next summer’s hats.
Laura Ingalls Wilder in Farmer Boy
When I was in Vermont with a friend at the beginning of August, we decided to take the short trip up to New York to visit Almanzo Wilder’s homestead. The Little House series was one of my favorites as a child, and I admit that I’ve read them four or five times as an adult as well. It was quite amazing to see the original house, it’s been restored to what it would have looked like when the Wilders lived there.
We peeked down into the cellar and toured the barns as well, unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the house or the barns, so I only have images of the grounds.
There was one enormous sugar maple tree in the front yard that would have been standing when Almanzo lived there. A few of the apple trees looked old enough as well, but those haven’t been dated to see for sure if they were.
The gardens were smaller than they would have been at the time, but they did have a small one they maintained. The large lilac behind the house that would have been by the outhouse was still standing, it has grown and almost has taken over the back yard.
On our way home we listened to the audiobook and were delighted to be able to put real images with the things we’d only imaged as little girls. If you’re a Little House fan and happen to be in Northern New York, I recommend taking the trip to the homestead. It’s nothing fancy or overdone, but it’s amazing to walk the grounds, tour the house, and place all the things in the book.
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“He sat on his favorite rock, near the cave’s entrance, watching the evening stars come out. Even in the worst of the year after Culloden, he had always been able to find a moment of peace t this time of the day. As the daylight faded, it was as though objects become faintly lit from within, so that they stood outlined against the sky or the ground, perfect and short pin every detail.”
Diana Gabaldon in Voyager
My favorite time to work in the garden is as evening falls. The sunsets are amazing, the moon rising is beautiful, everything is bathed in a colorful glow before darkness settles. It seems still and peaceful in the garden, the perfect time to weed or just to sit and enjoy the garden.
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“Nature must never be anything else but an alliance. Alas, I know well enough that nature has her hostile moods, and I am equally aware that we must often face and fight as we can her waywardness, her divine profusion, and her divine irrationality. Even then, I will have it, the alliance holds. When we begin to consider nature as something to be robbed greedily like an unguarded treasure, or used as an enemy, we put ourselves in thought outside of nature of which we are inescapably a part. Be it storm and flood, hail and fire, or the yielding furrow and the fruitful plain, an alliance it is, and that alliance is the cornerstone of our humanity.”
Henry Beston in Northern Farm
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“Higher, higher climbs the radiant noonday sun, the shadows grow shorter beneath the trees, snow slides from the roof, and the shingles steam. March is a beautiful month in th enorth for now the battle is won, and we of the country world can take new storms and returning snows with an easier heart; they will soon be gone.”
from Northern Farm by Henry Beston who lived not far from here.
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“All gardens need time, and part of the great pleasure of gardening, it seems to me, is watching them mature. I’ve waited five years for my Hydrangea petiolaris to decide whether or not to climb. This year it has, with reckless abandon. And because I had to wait for it, the reward has been especially sweet.”
Bunny Williams in Bunny Williams On Garden Style
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I’ve been thinking about this quote as I start tiny cherry trees from seed, take starts of plants in other garden, and start perennials from seed. Sure, I could have an instant garden if I purchase large trees, shrubs, and perennials at a greenhouse (and I do purchase a few here and there), but there’s so much satisfaction in the process of gardening. Nurturing tiny trees, knowing your climbing hydrangea is the offspring of a plant that is growing in a friend’s garden. Sometimes I have to remind myself that gardening is a process. When I dream about what my garden will be, I have to remember that it’s the journey of getting there that is gardening, not the end product. Anyone can make a garden, not everyone is a gardener.
What’s your favorite part of being a gardener?