It’s a mid-summer ritual for kitchen gardeners, bringing the canning kettles up from the basement, and a sure sign that the harvest season has begun. At first, it’s a little like remembering how to drive a car in winter, but then gets easier with each batch of pickles, dilly beans and ginger peach chutney. I adore the onset of the cooler weather, when time spent in the kitchen is an investment in the future. Bring on the apple season for homemade applesauce, pureed squash for pie, and basil for pesto.
I’ve noticed that just when the leaves start to change from green to red, the salad days of spring and summer give way to vegetables with yellow and orange hues. Looking at the wildness of the garden in mid- summer, the rangy un-pruned tomato plants, the spiky onion leaves flat on the soil and the unrelenting cucumber vines attached to everything in sight, it’s hard to remember the cool day last spring when I planted my first seeds into freshly tilled soil. My heart thumped a beat to see the small green shoots emerge.
In the evening, when all is done, I like to wander out to the chairs under my old apple tree and gaze at the perennial garden, basking in its glory as the cone flowers burst alive, mixed in with the wild blue lobelia and the tall spires of the cimicifuga racemosa climbing higher and higher, before it starts to unfold into a mass of fragrant white blossoms, giving the bees one final delicious taste of summer nectar.