Monday, September 22, 2014

Harvest Celebration & Winter Near

Today we straddle equal day and night length. We've reached Autumnal Equinox, an ancient turn of the cycles of the year, a jubilation of harvest plenty. With ear to the north wind and eye to winter provender.

From this day forward, the nights deepen; Earth's northern axis slants away and the light of old Sol will diminish. Days shorten, until the festivals of light-renewed at Winter Solstice.

The Green Man of Keltic lore has turned russet-gold, storing the last of long day sun and warmth.

As my gesture toward dancing round an Equinox bonfire, I'll be lighting the first pinyon logs in the kiva fireplace indoors.

It's certainly not the first log fire in the neighborhood! Friends down the lane built an exquisite rental casita with sunset views and wonderful feeling of refuge and hearth.

Those fleeing 100 degree F. summers have settled astonished into Rocky Mountain evenings in the 40's and 50's and snuggled by their kiva fire. Woodsmoke fragrance swirls round the lane.

Winter squash and pumpkins are deepening in color and flavor, a bit nipped by hints of frost. Critters are gathering seeds and acorns to tide them over the lean cold months.
Ant hills are the highest I've ever seen here, which in local lore presages much snow and hard long winter. For my part, am trolling for warm woolies at rummage (jumble) sales and thrift shops to tuck into the cedar chest and to share with friends.

The rummage sale I helped set up funds one of the local Food Pantries, thronged by hundreds and hundreds of hungry people each week. Our, gotta-have-it-next-new-thing, priorities may enter cold months of refiner's fire.

If heat should fail, sweaters and a hot water bottle at the feet become appropriate response, and long normal for those unaccustomed to central heat. Many of us may be blind-sided by harsh conditions this northern winter.

Food of course comes to mind and what if there's no power? What about sauerkraut?!!

In northern Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the areas settled by those immigrants to the New World, there's a tradition of fermenting vegetables to serve fresh, through the winter.

Jars can be kept in the fridge, assuming electricity, or crocks down cellar.

Right now I have a crock of stinky kimchee burbling on the porch. Amazing stuff, like winter's antibiotic. For a pretty good kimchee recipe, see "Kitchen Probiotics" right sidebar at

As to sauerkraut in its many variations, cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C.

Until Capt. Cook loaded kegs of sauerkraut on board his sailing vessels, it was not possible to cross vast empty oceans. The limes gave out, and the "Limey" crew fell to scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency disease, first losing their teeth, then dying.

But the crew refused to get near the kegs of sauerkraut! Until Capt. Cook, no fool, said it would be reserved for the officers only (who weren't thrilled about it either.)

Eventually all ate a daily kraut ration and Capt. Cook made it to New Zealand and Australia with a living crew, small comfort perhaps to the Maori and Aborigines.

My CSA this week included a beautiful five pound (~2.5 kilo) cabbage. Next up, a batch of sauerkraut with a bit of apple and caraway seed.

Small doings in momentous times, and first hearth fire tonight. Happy Autumn Equinox to us all (and Vernal Equinox to friends Downunder.)


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