Farewell to shadows of bluebells on white chicken coop walls…Farewell to pleasant afternoons hanging laundry on the line in the company of friendly toads…Farewell to grasshoppers, and white trumpet vines, and all other such elegant pairings…Farewell to barefoot days at the edge of the lake……Farewell to the haunting serenade of loons… Farewell to daisy bouquets made by small hands, and smoky sunsets, gifts from forests burning far away…Farewell to cumulonimbus, those splendid, tall ships sailing by in the sea of the sky…Farewell to restless, flitting warblers in green, green meadows…Farewell to lush gardens decked in the thousand diamonds of sudden morning showers…Farewell to the brief, warm nights, sparkling with celestial beauty and fireflies, humming with mosquitoes…Farewell to all the sun-ripened berries hiding under the leaves…Farewell to picturesque encounters on whimsical summer evening drives…Farewell to all the babies, now raised and grown…Farewell to dancing swallowtails in ballrooms of flowers…Farewell, sweet summer; welcome, glorious autumn!
…my camera brought to me,
Eight buds a-bursting.
Anticipation. My yard is full of it in the form of these hopeful swelling buds. Each one is a neat and tidy little package, a ticking time bomb hiding the splendid explosion that’s about to happen. I await the event eagerly, sometimes checking twice a day on my favorites. And then I savor the miracles that come.
These are the fulfillments of my gardening hopes and dreams, the reward for all the dirt under my fingernails, for all the times my back ached from bending over to pull weeds and my neck got burned by the sun.Anticipation and its reward are very sweet.
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
And I return, with the second in my series of “Ten Things to Do With Over-Abundant Vegetables” posts. I didn’t necessarily set out to make this a series, but last year’s post on cucumbers ended up being a popular one—and even I referenced back to it when I needed to refresh my memory this summer. So, here we go again—and this time pumpkins get to take the stage!
Last year we got so many pumpkins, I gave some away, allowed others to freeze in their role as porch decorations instead of rushing them inside to save them, and even threw away the last couple that spoiled before I could get to them. That was after I had frozen I don’t know how many quarts of roasted pumpkin for future baking projects.
I scaled back on the number of pumpkin hills this year, but the ones I did plant are already promising to produce abundantly. And then, when I cleaned out our freezer last week, I discovered 20 quarts of frozen roasted pumpkin. People, I did this is a whole year later, and I promise that I actually did use some throughout the year. Whoa.
So it looks like I’ll be making a lot of pumpkin things in my kitchen in the coming weeks—and I thought maybe you’d like to join in on the fun? The list that follows includes some of my personal tried and true favorites. (It does assume, though, that you know about the tried and true classics, like pumpkin pie (Libby’s forever!!!) and pumpkin bread.)
- Give thanks for your blessings.
- Make the cupcakes that are usually my birthday cake.
- Make these pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling, or these without.
- Make pumpkin pecan backed steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. Pro tip: surprisingly, this dish, like pumpkin pie, is better cold so it’s great for making the night before. Also, it’s especially amazing topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple or agave syrup.
- Make sweet pumpkin scones or savory.
- Try pumpkin in your pasta.
- Try your hand at a homemade pumpkin spice latte! My friend Erica has an awesome recipe here.
- Carve out the inside of a giant pumpkin and fill it with apple cider for a fun punch bowl for an autumn party.
- Fall decorations, of course. I love the look of white pumpkins in rooms where I don’t necessarily want to add the color orange, but do want to add a touch of fall! Take note for your garden next year: this little heirloom variety is easy to grow and produces enough to decorate your whole house and share some with your friends! (Spoken with the voice of experience!)
- You know how they say that the old time settlers used to use all of the pig except the squeal? Well, you can use all of the pumpkin except the skin. Roast the seeds, and then recycle the stem to make these.
- Bonus for you: my favorite Cinderella pumpkin seeds can be found here.
The theme of my flower garden this year was, officially, low cost and low maintenance. Low maintenance, because I knew I’d have less time than ever with a newborn this summer, and low cost, because why spend money on something I might not even have time to take care of?
A few days before our third daughter was born, I thinned out all the baby cosmos plants that had self-seeded from the year before. Then I filled in the holes with miscellaneous flower seeds leftover from previous years. And then I abandoned it to grow, hoping the emerging seedlings would somehow trump the inevitable emerging weeds without any help from me, and that when I came out of the fog that is life for the first month or so after a baby is born, there would be a garden full of flowers. It’s not exactly my recommended method of flower gardening, but I figured it still might be better than nothing.
A month or so later, when I remembered again that I had a flower garden and went to see what had become of it, I was surprised to find that the flowers had actually triumphed over the weeds.
The only problem was—the conqueror had been the cosmos, and the weeds were not the only victims to languish in it’s shadow. I looked in vain for the calendula, foxgloves and cone flowers, and finally located a few pale lupines. Deep beneath the jungle of feathery giants, were some sickly zinnia plants.
Obviously I had not thinned the volunteer cosmos quite as well as I should have. So much for my idea of a mixed flower garden. Sigh.
Well, anyway, I was just happy to still have some flowers growing on a year I didn’t have much time to invest in caring for them.
Then, one day in August I glanced out my kitchen window and noticed something glowing brilliantly coral in the midst of all the pink. I hadn’t planted any coral colored cosmos. I don’t think there’s even such a thing. I went out straightaway to investigate.That’s when I discovered that the pale zinnias I had dismissed as failures hadn’t languished in the shadow of the cosmos after all, but had pushed through sturdily and bloomed. And they weren’t even stunted. They were magnificent!And so, the moral of the story is:
When it feels like the entire cosmos, er, universe is against you, don’t shrivel up and languish like a calendula. Don’t wither away like a halfhearted cone flower or foxglove. Be a zinnia. Dig your roots in deep into Christ, push your way through the overwhelming obstacles, and grow.
It’s a beautiful thing.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)