Autumn and its awesomeness…

I realize I am fickle.  Every time a new season begins, I gush about how it is my all-time favorite.  Spring feels like an awakening after a long arduous winter.  Its exciting, full of hope and energy.  The to-do lists are long and well planned.  Sun warms pasty white skin that craves vitamin D.  It's easy to understand why spring, the season that follows our longest season, winter, would rank right up there as the BEST.

Summer is rad.  You can run around with minimal clothing, and your kids can be naked, like they prefer.  It's light until 10pm, so you feel like you gained an extra six hours of work/play time.  It's so free.  All you need is water, it seems.  The outdoor events are endless, and fresh food is everywhere.  We run around like wild beasts packing in as much activity as possible before....

....ahhhh, Autumn.  The deep inhale before the exhale of winter. The retreat from insanity that is summer.  Readying your home for a long season without.  Preparing for hibernation.  Harvesting and putting up food feels right, because WINTER is coming, and you have to be prepared.  Even if a dozen grocery stores are within a five mile radius of our home, we still MUST stock up and prepare for winter.  My ancestors had to, so it is my biological inclination. Evolution doesn't work  fast enough to erase that memory.

Being outside is fantastic in the fall.  The trees are aglow with the color of changing leaves, bright yellow, red, orange.  Flocks of birds up and fly in formation,  heading south I suppose.  Crickets start their humming earlier in the day, four o'clock , instead of the late summer hours of nine or ten.  The light is different, heavier, like perpetual dusk. Fall feels safe and warm, like Thanksgiving dinner.

And the homestead?  This is when she shines.  Old dark wood, greenish-yellow  moss and box elder leaves.  Chickens strutting about in the wind, feathers ruffled, laying fewer eggs.  And crazy huge spiders that appear as if by autumnal magic, to spur Halloween excitement.  This one has been sitting on the web that it built on one of our tomato cages just outside our front door.

And, if that isn't cool enough for you, here is something awesome about yesterday.  It was the first time since 1991 that the Autumn Equinox fell on the same day as the Harvest Moon. Asa, Axel and Papa went on a  moon-walk to soak it up.  Axel came back saying, "Look at the meooon. Mama".


We have a lot going on in our lives here at the homestead, and beyond.  Both Andy and I have businesses: he freelances writing and animation and teaches, I run a kids clothing store.  We have two young kids who demand quite a bit of time and energy.  And we have an active social life with lots of birthday parties, block parties, markets, barbeques, concerts and the like.

Last summer I freaked out about all of these obligations/responsibilities.  I felt like it was impossible for us to sustain this kind of lifestyle--something was gonna have to give.  Should we give up the homestead?  Speaking for myself, the homestead has been the calm oasis that regenerates my soul when I'm feeling lost.  It pretty much stands for what I want to do with my life. But it is labor intensive and it would make things considerably less complicated if we gave it up.  The business has money invested in it, and we need to make an income of some sort, and the kids aren't going to get any less demanding.  So, depressingly, the homestead started seeming like the most likely thing to go.  I stayed up at night thinking of what to do, mulling it over, until...

I had a stupendous revelation: VOLUNTEERS!!!  Find volunteers who would like to be part of this homestead experience, who could help us make this work.  Not so much a revelation, I know, and more like a slap-on-the-forehead, la-doy moment.  So I began the process of finding interns from the University who could help us with the planning, planting, and maintenance of the garden.  I posted an intern request through the Environmental Studies department at the University of Montana. The first guy to respond, Alex, has been on board ever since. He is why we have an awesome garden this year. This guy has put so much time and energy into our Homestead: he has become like family.  Our kids love him.  If I want to bribe Asa to come down to the garden with me, I suggest that Alex might be down there, and we are there in seconds.

We have also had help watering our garden this summer.  Since we don't have a sprinkler system (no groundwater), it can be fairly tedious to water the garden by hand for one person.  Our friends, the Baacks, really saved our bacon numerous times this summer.

And, our petite friend Oliver has been helping us eat our veggies out of the garden.  His smile is also helpful, just in a general sense-of-well-being kind of way.

And soon we will be calling upon more volunteers as we plan for our (10th?) annual Fall Gathering, Heritage Potluck and Harvest Swap on October 2nd.  Details to come.  We are calling upon all good people to come forth and volunteer for this most harvest-y of events.  Helpfulness is so helpful.