Sunday, September 22, 2013

Farewell Summer

It was a stellar summer in western Washington this year. I cannot even remember such a consistently warm, dry, and idyllic summer. In August a bunch of friends visited from out of town, the tomatoes got ripe, the sunflowers got big, the BBQ's were plentiful, the nieces and nephews played, and Golden Gardens hosted night after night of beautiful sunsets. 
I kept harvesting in the garden, as well as started planting for fall crops and overwintering veggies. I liked to challenge myself to make meals that were almost all from the backyard garden.  

One night I made garlic mashed potatoes, cherry tomato caprese salad, sauteed onions and kale, and Puget Sound crab that I caught. Everything was home-grown (and fished) except the butter, milk, and mozzarella. I feel like I just need a cow to make that dream happen!

I also got to learn about honey extraction through a demonstration by Seattle Bee Works. They set up a screened tent in West Seattle, and had all the tools for harvesting honey, along with a large, 20-frame motorized extractor. It was open to beekeepers bringing their own honey to extract for a small fee, or just for the public to learn about the process.
I helped "uncap" the honey frames by using an old-school hot roller knife to take off the the layer of wax on the comb that tells us that finished honey is underneath. Then the uncapped frames get spun in the extractor, and honey comes out the bottom. Then that honey is put through a strainer to remove bits of wax. And voila! You have pure, raw honey ready to eat. (I still haven't decided if I'm going to harvest any of my own honey this year... more on that soon. But just in case you are wondering, both of my hives are alive and doing well!)

I also did a couple day hikes with girfriends. Off I-90, Tessa and I climbed up to Mailbox Peak. That's a great one if you don't have time to go far, but you still want a killer quad workout. It's something like 3,100 feet of elevation gain in 2.8 miles. That's basically like climbing stairs the whole time. But the views are worth it, and as a bonus there is a mailbox at the top full of surprises. There are endearing "letters to self" from teenagers, random pictures of Eminem, bug spray, bandaids, maps, keychains, etc. A friend told me that when she went last year, there was a whole bottle of whisky. So the contents are always changing- make sure to bring something of your own to leave! 
Serena and I went to Gothic Basin, off the Mountain Loop Highway, about 30 miles past Granite Falls. The trail begins on the same road to Monte Cristo, a ghost town from silver mining prospects of the late 1890's. I am fascinated by the idea of a local, mountainous ghost town and plan to go there someday soon. But instead, we forked off the river trail and climbed up to the stunning Gothic Basin at 5,200 feet.
And that catches us up to last night, when some friends and I celebrated the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I wanted to make an appropriate meal- fall comfort food straddling the freshness of summer. So I made a vegetarian pot pie with carrots, potatoes, parsley, and chives from the garden, and a garden salad of mixed greens, arugula, and radish. We packed a dinner picnic and headed down to Greenlake where the Fremont Arts Council was putting on their annual Fall Equinox Luminata lantern parade. There was a gathering of people with lanterns and lighted costumes, fire dancers, and marching band music.
As full darkness settled, the group turned into a parade, walking partway around the lake to end in a dance party of light, moonrise, bonfire, cookies, and hot cider. From here on out, the days will be shorter than the nights. And after the hot, frenzied summer we had, I couldn't be more ready for the fall.

1 comment:

ElizaBeth said...

Fun! I want to hike to that ghost town with you... also, how is it possible that I spent most of my life in Seattle yet had no idea that Greenlake does a fall equinox party?? Thanks for always, always schooling me on cool things.