Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Saturday, September 26

Kicking and Screaming

I will never understand why, when those last days of August come into view, people wish for the end of summer and can't wait for fall. Their giddiness over cooler days, cozy nights by the fire, chunky sweaters is understandable, I guess, but I'd still rather be half-naked, outside, in the sun.

Maybe people succumb to this phenomenon because they are just exhausted by the sun-drunk pace of the season. In Oregon, where our summers are gloriously mild, but tragically brief, we try to cram every outdoor activity imaginable into those three short months before the damp and moldy winter sets in. As the days get short and Labor Day comes into sight it's as if these fall-lovers have rung every ounce of summertime enthusiasm out of their cells and welcome the dark and the wet just so they can hibernate until March. By then they'll undoubtedly have cabin fever and start wearing shorts as soon as it hits 65 degrees.

This is not me. Mainly because as the summer draws to a close I look back on my mental of list of things I wanted to do while I didn't have to wear some kind of water-repelling gear and always feel like a failure. I never picked enough berries, or rode my bike as often as I wanted to, I didn't re-landscape the front yard, or invite everyone I know to a barbecue. On and on. I was really meant for more of a temperate, Mediterranean climate where these activities can be spread out over the entire year. (Like Oakland, where I went to school, and where I am as I write this, the night before the first annual BlogHer Food conference).

This last week, the first week of official fall, we got a bonus week of hot weather. It felt like an overindulgent gift (but I'll take it). And for once, instead of letting all the annuals and the vegetables rot into the ground and ignore their brown, slimy selves until spring, I actually pulled out the tired and waning squashes and now-bitter greens and got to extending my gardening season. We planted another round of greens and little root veggies: arugula, kale, chicory, radish, radicchio, broccoli raab (which has always succumbed to bugs before, we'll see if it does better in the cooler weather). I put up new twine lines for beans that I hope to get into the ground when I get back home. I've still got rainbow chard which I might be able to keep going if I get a cold frame built to protect it (another item on the summer list that didn't get done this year).

Maybe I won't go into this fall kicking and screaming like years past. If I can keep my hands in the dirt, even if the rest of me is covered in wool and raincoat, and spread out the garden tasks over these long and dark months, I might avoid my own cabin fever and frenzied do-it-all-now mentality next summer.