Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Update

Do you know what we did yesterday? We burned some more pecan trimmings and huddled around the fire drinking mulled cider because it was cold. That's right--not merely grey and damp, but cold, too. I think that by August, I had lost all faith in the concept of winter. Misery was my native element. "Ye rend me; I care not," I said.

Matt seems to be taking this dramatic reversal of fate in stride. I say things like, "Wow! It's so chilly! I need--I need a jacket! Amazing!" And Matt says, slightly wearily, "It is October." Well, what does that have to do with anything? When the malignant sky gods hate you with an implacable hatred, the mere flipping of a few calendar pages is as nothing to them. The absence of meterological malice is the miracle.

Anyway, I've been enjoying it. I've finally made up my mind: Autumn is my favorite season.

The garden's been enjoying it, too. The roses are all blooming and our "lawn" is covered in a level coat of bright green horseherb. It's actually kind of pretty, horseherb--a very attractive, woodsy shade of green (like something you'd see in Ireland, or so I imagine), and it never gets tall or rangey. Not too horrible, as weeds go.

Among the pleasures is this blooming crinum*. Mystery Crinum #3. It was a in bud a few posts ago, and then I missed its bloom and now it's in bloom again. Attractive, no? Not stellar, but nice. Will do more research and see if I can pin an identity on it.

Pecans: The Agony and the Ecstacy
Also, there is more pecan-related news. Remember those huge, citrus-sized pecans I showed you? They looked like toothsome morsels, right? I expect they would have been, too. But I wouldn't know--you'd have to ask the squirrels. Those fuzzy, larcenous little bastards ate every single pecan off of the back two trees. They never even got the chance to ripen.

So that's that agony part. The ecstacy bit is that the old pecan out front is still covered in pecans, and they've actually begun to ripen; it's dropping fruit that have come out of the husks.

You may remember that our neighber, Mr M, lived in this house as a kid (back in 1920). He remembers his dad planting that pecan, and it was a wild, bitter thing--one year Mr M Senior poured a bag of sugar around the roots of the tree to try to sweeten its small, feral fruits (pecan orchardists: it didn't work). Prior to the squirrel attack, I showed off our trees to Mr M, who was absolutely the perfect audience for this because he adores pecans and also because he knows the property--and he did a complete double-take, jaw hanging open and everything, when I showed him the young trees in the back; but then I showed him the old one in the front, and he was utterly agog. He kept saying things like "Well I'll be gol-damned!" over and over (not kidding about the swearing--so cute). VERY gratifying. Because there were tons of the fruits and they are (apparently) much larger than back in his day.

And they actually taste just fine. I cracked one open, and while the meat was soft (not sure that it's fully ripe yet), it tasted like, y'know, a pecan. And there were tons of them. Nasty little squirrels must be stuck at home with a bad case of indigestion brought on by eating all of my best pecans. Good. I hope they get acid reflux. And ulcers. And dysentery. So there.

Anyway, the pecans from the old tree are all for me!

But I don't know anything about harvesting them. I've got my slinky-on-a-stick, but once I gather the nuts, do I need to let them cure or anything? How long will they keep? What's the deal with the softness (not soft like rotten--soft like bendy)--will that go away if I roast them? I'll keep you posted as the experiment progresses.

*Possibly Crinum × digweedii, winner of Most Improbable Specific Epithet Award.

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