Feeding Soil and Souls

Fall is a time for maintenance. Just as the trees of our property are winding down, closing their factory doors one dropped-leaf at a time, so are we getting things in order to go dormant for the winter. Juggled into the daily sorting through boxes of stuff that held us together in apartment living over the summer was the slightly more unpleasant task of purging unused items from our home closets and attic spaces.This took some time — and patience — and aside from the stemware staged on the dining table which awaits glass shelving in the new kitchen, all is either put away or staged to go away. The best news is the pile of stuff that’s getting passed on is very, very big.

The fact that autumn is our favorite season is the driving force behind a desire to home-school.  Traditionally, it’s the school district calendar that dictates when families get time off together, and I’m sorry but summer in Texas sucks for us outdoor types.  The on-line school is fully operational now, the kinks of which having been worked out little-by-little; it could not be going better.  With a digital classroom that is easy to pack up and take with us, it goes where we go, at our convenience.  Lesson plans are worked with such efficiency that leftover time can be spent in the garden, doing chores or home projects, or just visiting the museum or nature center before the siblings get home. What I didn’t quite expect was how close my oldest son and I have become in the process.

Cooler temps and the lower humidity of fall make for better time outdoors with family and friends. The kids are riding their bikes after school and birding regularly (be sure to click the link for Angie’s birding journal), outside chores are more bearable in the mornings and late afternoon, and edibles thrive in the cooler temps and regular rains without much thought or care on my part.  We’re back to visiting Bubba’s every week for our food, the kids feeding his chickens and turkeys while Mom and Bubba pick greens and talk about gardening and the world.  I think I missed this time the most.

Fall is about camping, thunderstorms, snuggling in a sleeping bag, hanging out melting marshmallows on an open kettle-fire.  It’s about making leaf piles and wrecking them.  It’s about making Leafmen out of cedar needles.  As we recall stories of our past and reminisce the memories of people no longer with us, exchange hugs and laughter and wishes and dreams in the fire’s glow, we grow with and nurture each other with every moment. I would go so far to say that fall feeds my soul.

Fall feeds the soil, too.  I’m mowing again, not for the grass so much as for the regular smattering of leaves from the dozens of tree specimens on our property.  I mulch-mow the leaves right back onto the trees’ root structure, which I know they love (if they were to “love”).  Even though I continue to neglect the mono-culture turf, ours is the only one without brown patch on the block.  It is lush, green, and disease free without supplemental watering or fertilizing, my little prize for giving up micro-managing altogether.  Eggplant — the sole yard crop producing at the moment — continues to ripen on the vine to be enjoyed weekly baked with a bit of olive oil. It is one of my all-time favorite fruits; surprisingly, every one of the 6 plants survived the summer of neglect while we were away.  Oh, yes, and I continue to steal bags of trash to the garden’s delight.

With the counter tops made right last week, and defective windows replaced in this one, the bulk of the construction project is officially over.   Today, it rained like it never rained before with temps dropping into the 40’s at last, and only the brick layer’s clean-up out back and sheet-rocking inside left to do.  Never mind that the brick debris pile nearly dammed and flooded the family room this morning.  Digging trenches in the driving rain while being drenched with cold water is quite invigorating, I find.

This fall — like all the others before it, definitely feels good.  Even if it is mostly over by now.

* * *

Camping out back by the creek was one of the first things on the agenda after moving back.
Camping out back by the creek was one of the first things on the agenda after moving back.  It dipped into the 40’s that night, so homemade afghans were a must (thank you, Ann!)
Roseate Spoonbill perched out back.  Too bad I didn't have my 2.0x converter lens!
Roseate Spoonbill perched out back. A converter lens would have been handy…
The Scotts gathering firewood for the evening's campfire.
The Scotts gather firewood for the evening’s campfire.
Bubba gave us two crates of honey, provided we processed it ourselves.  Delicious!
Bubba gave us two crates of honey, provided we processed it ourselves. Delicious!
Bubba's not too keen on portraits, but he humors me with the camera phone anyway
Bubba’s not too keen on portraits, but he humors me with the camera phone anyway
Look who decided to rest in our backyard for the evening?  Rare indeed.
Look who decided to rest in our backyard for the evening? Rare indeed.
Trying out the 2.0x converter lens, the low lighting in the morning hours did not do well without the tripod.  But aren't  they beautiful?
Trying out a 2.0x converter lens handheld in low light — not a good idea.  Next time, a tripod.  But aren’t they beautiful?
Dirty Toes = Happy Girl!
Dirty Toes = Happy Girl!
Kettle fires are a favorite for telling stories and goofing off -- oh, and making s'mores!
Kettle fires are a favorite for telling stories and goofing off — oh, and making s’mores!
Some of the fall foliage reflected in the creek
Some of the fall foliage reflected in the creek
I just love him!
I just love him!

* * *

It’s nice to be back to blogging again!  

22 thoughts on “Feeding Soil and Souls

  1. I love this post! From the inspired title to the laughter-inducing first pic to the heart-warming Awww’s, this post makes me smile! Thanks for sharing a ‘slice of life’ in your world Shannon, to borrow from Celeste. 🙂 Hugs to you! xo Gina


    1. So nice to have you back, Gina. I hope that things are slowing down a bit for you to smell the roses. Oh…I guess the roses are a ways away for you yet, so how about the future PROMISE of smelling the roses? No matter how hectic life gets, every day IS pretty awesome. Glad you could come by and share the joy. Cheers and Happy New Year. Many hugs back to you!


  2. What a lovely post girlfriend! I really felt like I got a slice of what life is like for you in the fall. I’ve never heard of a Leafman, but I love the photo. Love that Spoonbill photo too. Great writing as usual! Celeste 🙂


    1. Leafman is the picture at the very top of the post. It’s what kids build when there’s no snow and plenty of leaves! The other day, they built an entire choir (several Leafpeople) complete with music sheets and wassail. I never took a photo, but it was pretty clever. Nice to see you again, Celeste!


      1. Honestly, I can’t figure it out. I’ve looked on all kinds of websites to listen to the sounds but it sounds closest to a Great Horned Owl. Those are huge! It has a simple “Who, whooo, whooo.” I tried taping it last night. Possible post in the works. 😉


      2. Great Horned may be your hooter! Though we do have them here, we mostly hear the eerie racket of the barred owls. Awesome when we’re camping out back. Looking forward to that post! All of my kids are avid birders now — a fun and easy way to connect with our world.


    1. Still honing my bird photography skills, but it IS so wonderful being back in paradise every day, even if most have them have been spent indoors. When Bob and Ann visited (see the links on my last post), I got to “play” with some serious camera equipment. Even took a few shots of my own that we’re pretty good!

      Even if the photos turn out mediocre, I still enjoy the whole process of the capture. My video is always better, if not more trouble to post. You might like these little lovebirds in my window earlier this year. https://dirtnkids.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/bluebird-brings-happiness/

      Stay well, Rachel! Coming over there to see what all I’ve missed.


  3. Your part on honey sticks out to me. I try my best to buy local honey and have one friend that “farms” it (not sure if that’s the correct term). But a bit concerned when I see you putting it in a pot that can obviously be heated. I am hoping that was used just because it is your biggest container! Right?? No heating the honey – unless I have really been mis-informed… And I am glad you are back on the grid and we get to hear from you again!


    1. No, we never heat our honey! In fact, I won’t even use it in baking (granola, muffins, etc.) because the heating process destroys all it’s awesome qualities. We eat it raw exclusively. You were right in thinking that the pot was the biggest thing we had to fit the crate. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      Local honey is an amazing natural remedy for seasonal, local allergies. You are consuming the pollen in your area in concentrated form so that your body can build resistance to it. Technically, it is not vegan (vegans will argue that this is exploitation of a species) but because his bee colonies are intensively cared for throughout the year, and the honey is not “factory-produced” on a large scale, we ethical vegetarians (which is really what we are now) don’t mind processing one crate. There are still several more in place that feed the colony through the winter.


      1. I love my local honey for all the same reasons. I resort to the store bought mass produced (and likely altered) version for baking since I am rather protective of the local jars! But, I use it in my cup of tea most days and sometimes wonder if pouring the hot water over it hurts it too much – your thoughts on that? 🙂


      2. Won’t hurt in tea, unless you’re bringing it to a full boil. If you like to steep your tea in boiling water, I would do that first, let it sit and cook for a bit (or add cold cream or a nice cube if you like) and then stir in the honey.


  4. Wow! What a beautiful post. Brings back memories or our own visit, too. Nice touch with the cap and gloves in the mulch. And I love that pretty face with Bubba. Nice to have you back, Shannon. 🙂


    1. I thought of putting Angie’s birding journal in with my pics but would so rather folks see it through your blog. You and Ann are an inspiration to birders, young and old alike. It’s good to be back. I have several posts cooking that should keep me in weekly posts for at least a couple of months. Plus, I hope to be “getting back to it” which means lots of dirty stuff down the pike. Off to eat some eggplant now…


      1. I really appreciated the link. I always enjoy trying to do the same in my posts. We help each other out. I’ll be looking forward to reading some more of yours, as I always do.

        (Ann has eggplant in a doggie bag from dinner last nite.)


  5. I just remarked to Bob at dinner last night that I was missing your blogs. I so enjoyed it this afternoon after my lunch. It brought back great memories of our great time with you and you family in October! Looking forward to the next one.


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