On the Eve of October

Confused and out of step is how I’d describe myself over the last several weeks. The extended forecast, which takes us to October 14th, offers nothing below 40 degrees for our overnight low. This places us at more than a month past our first average frost date. Myself and those around me do not feel in sync with our normal rhythm of the season. I wonder how early hunting will be this year, as it is typical for deer to not be on the move in warmer weather. They bed down and ride it out which sounds familiar to my own habits. Bow season is always warmer than rifle, but even more so this year. There is just so little chill in the air. 

A neighbor stopped by to assist Adam in designing the roof for the covered porch we are building. He is a retired master carpenter, a one time creator of the most beautiful timber frame homes and barns. Now he enjoys spending days on the farm with the pigs, cattle, chickens, gardens, and hemp fields. We are grateful for his willingness to lend his expertise; we have built many small structures in the past, but nothing that we felt needed to look just right.

A while back I noticed his wife’s baskets for sale at our local Agway, and being the owner of a few myself, I was pleased to see such a nice selection of goods offered right there beside the bird seed. Erik shared that he’d built many birdhouses for the store’s shelves during the holidays last year; with supply chains interrupted and bare inventory, he was happy to contribute. And truly, don’t birdhouses make the most wonderful gift? My father gave me one years ago and I still enjoy it to this day. I was also amused by the idea of a retiree tinkering away on birdhouses for the local feed store. How quintessential. 


I’ve been trying to think of a way to thank him, as he would not accept payment for his consultation, but living here is tricky in that most people provide for themselves the very things I have to offer as a thank you. I settled on a basket of homegrown goods that would do well in storage, so they would not feel any pressure to use or process them right away. 

Though I cannot imagine a bad foliage year in Vermont, this one seems weary and muted in comparison to years past. I think of the woeful sugaring season earlier in the year and cannot help but worry about the strength and health of our trees. They have endured so much. I know many humans feel the same, and I wonder who will rise from the ashes first. 


The garden is mostly harvested with only carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes remaining. Well, there is also my experimental raised bed of fresh greens in the greenhouse. This is a first for me and I’ve kept my expectations low with my hopes high. I am excited to discover how far I can take fresh greens into late autumn or even winter. If gardening has taught me anything through the years, it is that you can read all the books in the world, but until you try something for yourself (sometimes in a few different ways), you’ll never know the best systems for your individual location and soil. Our garden was so good to us this year and provided all the vegetables we’ll need to see us through winter and early spring. There is an undeniable comfort in that. Grateful is not a big enough word. 


The sounds of late September carry across the ridge in the form of geese flying south, combines in the distant corn fields, and finally, on the eve of October, a crackling fire to warm our bones. 

5 Responses

  1. Poignant and beautiful Heather. A touch of melancholy that autumn always brings , at least for me. A bountiful harvest is such a comfort and maybe even more so during these challenging days. My fire is going and I’m settled in for a good read after a stormy night here on the gulf islands.

  2. Happy October Eve to you! I’m still trying to find a poem or words to convey how beautiful and wonderful Sunday’s are in October. I remember you writing about that in your Blog a long time ago.
    We can see and hear that the fields are being harvested in our “neck of the woods” also. Lovely fields of bounty!
    Your neighbor sure will be pleased with your basket of goodies for them, so very thoughtful.
    Thank you for writing.

  3. The pictures of your harvest are beautiful! We gave up growing pumpkins a few years ago, but seeing yours has me thinking of trying again next year! As I type that my husband chimes in from the background to say that we indeed will be growing some next year! Wishes do come true!
    Please let us know how the greens grow for you this winter. We tried growing lettuce and spinach for the first time in our unheated greenhouse down here in CT over last winter and my husband had fresh greens all winter and through the spring until we were able to plant outside. It took double covers over them in the coldest times, but it was worth the effort to have them. Oh and the claytonia and mache were great ground covers as well as additions to his salads. Claytonia was his favorite. Isn’t it fun to try new things?
    I will have to stop in at the Agway next summer when I am up there to find those bird houses you referred to! We love to see who will come visit our birdhouses.
    Having a neighbor with the knowledge like that and to be willing to share is knowledge is a priceless gift. Always such a treat to find people like that in our lives. I am sure you will love your porch!

  4. I really feel this in my bones Heather. We live in northern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior and it is the same here – our normal frost date was 2 weeks ago and there is no frost in sight. We haven’t even had an overnight low in the 30s yet this fall. It is scary and unsettling. Our trees are muted and so so dry here too.
    Thanks for this reflection. I loved the line about low expectations but high hopes!

  5. Heather, what a beautiful gift to offer your neighbor. I do not live in a place where people are often growing… anything (hah!) and my gifts are often met with surprise and delight. And then lots of questions. It becomes a wonderful conversation starter: the dozen eggs, the filled jar, the craft, the harvest. I’m sure they are appreciative.
    PS I am delighted to find you posting again! Thank you.