My Sunday By Melinda Olson

Spending time in the garden feels like a vacation to me. One would reasonably think, however, that in November the gardens are in hibernation mode. But while Oregon has been inundated with rain for the past few weeks and the gardens are preparing to rest, their bounty is flourishing. A thankful harvest indeed. It was a joyful day, filled with many reasons for which to be thankful.

Here was my Sunday, November 8:

1. Ginkgo biloba: The ginkgo tree’s leaves have started to turn and are ready to collect and dry. Unlike other plants, harvesting ginkgo is fairly easy. Ginkgo is not appropriate for pregnant women but I use its tincture to help remember to put my socks on right side out. It helps increase blood flow to the brain, and I always think their little leaves look like the two lobes of the brain, signifying what they are used for (called the Doctrine of Signatures). I need all the help I can get.

2. Vegetables: Before putting the vegetable garden to bed, pulling up the spent plants and snuggling the earth in with a good layer of manure, I need to harvest the last of the cold weather vegetables. Along with the squashes, I picked the last of the green peppers, carrots, beets and lettuce before the first hard frost. Still hanging on are the kale, beets and what lettuce can defend itself against the torrential rains and ravenous slugs. For dinner I made roasted cylinder beets, red carrots, onions and brussel sprouts that I harvested last week with a carrot and lettuce salad. I learned how to roast vegetables from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and it works with all manner of root vegetables. Deelish.

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3. Ivy:  English Ivy is a foreigner to Oregon. It’s considered an invasive and unwanted intruder after it was brought to this state by some well intentioned visitor long ago. It is, in fact, classified as a noxious weed. But I like it. It’s beautiful, stalwart and is controllable if one remembers to prune it back regularly. No, I’m not advocating planting it in your garden. But if it’s there, I say prune it and make something purty! Today was the biannual refresh of the grapevine arch over our bed. I cut tendrils and wind them around a grapevine arch. Easy.

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4. Maple Tree Drama: Turns out, when a tree falls in the forest, people do hear. We heard and felt a big boom during a lull in the rain and dashed outside to find that one of our aging maple trees had succumbed to the last straw (was it that last raindrop?) challenging its strength. So did the neighbors who also came running. It happens. Plants live their full lives and leave with little ceremony. The ebb and flow. We took a moment, honored this tree for having blessed us with its shade and leaves to help feed the forest floor. We’ll let it lay and season until next summer, then cut it up for firewood. Thank you Mrs. Maple.

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5. New Boots: Trees fall, boots give their all. My daughter in law bought me boots for Christmas many years ago. I have worn them more days than I can tell you, and as you can see, they have seen better days. It was my intention to finally break down and find their replacement. I did go to several stores. I tried on one shiny, intact pair after another. But try as I might, just couldn’t find the right pair. They weren’t as comfortable. They were too short/tall. They just didn’t fit right. Even though this time of the year there are lots of options available, in the end I came home empty handed. I couldn’t convince my wee small heart to replace these old friends They have served me well, slogging through Oregon muck, keeping my feet warm and dry, and protecting my legs whilst harvesting stinging nettles for years. They have paint and mud on them. And they have a few holes. But I consider them my garden friends and I’ll be sad to see them go. For the moment, they’ll do just fine.

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