My morning walk from the woods and my treehouse, Eastside, where I've been living for the past five weeks, has changed significantly.
I arrived at D Acres on the busy weekend of the Wellness Conference, a balmy couple of days, a little bit of rain, a little bit of sun. At the end of the conference, some of us were tired and sticky enough to take a chilly swim at the swimming hole (my great idea!). On the way back, we collected some tart apples from a tree by the side of the road--the first basketful of many this Fall.
That rocky path down the hill to my fallen down "slantyhouse," as I've occasionally called Eastside, can sometimes feel like a journey. Muddy and sloshy after a full week of rain, it becomes a precarious rock-hopping adventure as I leap to avoid sinking in too deep. Earlier this week, the trip was majestic. The colorful leaves have quickly been making their seasonal fall to the ground, making a blanket of crispy shades of yellow, orange, green, and red. The swish-swish-crunch-crunch of my boots through this layer gives me a rhythm and an awkward beat to my step, and it releases that fresh seasonal smell, dry and chill.
But the mornings have changed drastically. The sun is lower and longer to greet me, and the faint "cock-a-dooodle-doo" of the roosters is no longer a 5 o'clock alarm. When I open my eyes, and see my breath vapor into the chilly air, I realize it is no longer summertime. And again, as I pull on cold pants, and slip my feet into stiff, cold boots, to take my wobbly journey up the path, looking at the ground I see the sure sign that summer has ended--frost. Edging the fallen leaves are tiny ice crystals, coating blades of grass, making the kale and cabbage heavier and sweeter, is the frosty signifier of Winter-is-on-its-way.
So the only strategies to take for these short journeys are: more layers, a snug hat, long underwear, a sure stock of kindling and fuel, and the warmth of good company to bring hearty laughter and storytelling.
My first five weeks have been full. Arriving in the fall season ensured my work here to involve readying for the Winter. We have already begun stocking the root cellar shelves and bins with jars and root crops, while the freezers are quickly filling with extra beans, greens, and fruits. We will eat as well as we do when it is fresh. If anything, we have a zingy horseradish sauce to keep us entertained with its punch in the darker days of the Winter.
For now, I'm content with the frost, making bets on when the first snow will arrive (my guess is October 27) in anticipation of the first snowball fight, and collecting kindling everyday.