September 4, 2012

Points East: My favorite time of year

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — By the time most of you readers get to the column this week, August will be over and we will all be able to commence enjoying the very best thing about August in the first place.  

 Because the very best thing about August is that it is followed by September, which is rivaled only by May, as my favorite month of the year.  

 While Labor Day weekend finds most folks out celebrating the last warm weather holiday of the year, I usually spend at least part of mine sowing lettuce, radishes, mustard, collards, turnips, spinach and planting a short row of snow peas or sugar snaps.  The peas are a hit or miss proposition but it only takes a few minutes to give them a shot to see if they can survive late heat waves and still beat the first killing frost.   I will also set out three or four cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts plants if I can find them.  

 Turnips, sown now, tend to be small, tender and without any pith when they start getting mature enough to harvest in mid-October and they will continue to recover and grow after every cold spell until the first of the year. There’s simply nothing like turnips and greens, fresh from the garden to go with all that turkey and ham stuff that we tend to associate with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Spinach, sown now, will usually survive the winter and, along with turnip greens, be the first thing I get out of the garden come next spring.   

 The short row of bodacious sweet corn, just now in tassels, and the Bufford Caudill and Black Satin fall beans, fully trestled and just now in blossom, should be ready to harvest by the middle of September along with green onions and cucumbers, all of which I planted in mid-July.  We should still have plenty green peppers and tomatoes.  Before the end of September we should be able to have the best meal that we will get out of the garden all year and hopefully have enough veggies to provide the makings of meals for our daughters and Little Tommy Miller.  

 By mid-month the katydids and crickets will be in full harmony with the volume turned all the way up.  Owls and whippoorwills will occasionally join the chorus.  Nights will be just cool enough to turn off the AC and open all the windows so that we can enjoy the sounds and scents of late summer/early autumn carried on gentle breezes to the bedroom before they lull us into slumber.

 Dawns will find me kicked back on the platform porch swing that Rufus Harrison thinks he built for Loretta even though I hog it most of the time.  I will have binoculars in hand and my eyes will be wandering over the dead tree tops killed by the ice storm a few years back when it laid waste to the woods across the way.  I will be searching for migrating raptors — red tailed, red shouldered, sharp shinned, Coopers and other hawks that light in the tree tops and taking some pride when I can tell the difference between a Coopers and a sharp shinned.

 I will be thrilled by the frequent American Kestrel hovering over the Brown’s hayfield and then diving on an unsuspecting mouse.  I will marvel at the long, wide honking V’s of Canadian and snow geese getting early morning starts on their annual journeys to the tropics before the month is over.

Early evenings will find Loretta and me walking the fence row between our lawn and the Brown’s big pasture to admire the grazing herd of Angus calves, the last of the sunflowers, the stunningly purple iron weed blossoms and to shake our heads in wonder at all the growth our dipper gourds have achieved in just one night as they dangle on the fence.  

So if you pass by and notice the two of us holding hands as we stroll about or take an evening walk along Charlie Brown Road, just know that we are feeling sort of special.  Thirty years ago, this month, we decided to become full partners in this life and that’s really the biggest reason that September is my favorite time of year.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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