Flax hills are a blue sea in mid-August. We’re driving the grid road to deliver Farmer’s lunch where he still cuts hay. With near seasonal temperatures and no rain predicted for nearly a week ahead, we’re hopeful.
Spring truncated itself into summer, a strange mutation that leaves bees now scrambling through late blooming herbs and alfalfa. The sunroom fills with a drying variety of herbs, and because of unseasonably punctual rains we’re still eating local greens.
Amaranth (often called pigweed here), lamb’s quarters (a quinoa relative), mallow (whose baby heart shaped leaves I’ve cursed for years and considered a weed), even chickweed and dandelion find their way into salads and buttered green dishes at our table. The children walk about the yard eating pineapple weed (which I once considered wild chamomile and now flavours my favorite tea).
Raspberries continue to bloom and yield the biggest berries in years, and I’ve yet to harvest their leaves, along with this year’s grape leaves. There’s so much out there. I’m sharing some comfrey with the chickens since it’s a great tonic for them, but found a salve recipe online that has me reserving more for myself.
The kids are most excited about marshmallow: the plant that gave birth to the dessert wonder they enjoy at campfires. The marshmallows we make with root powder from this plant will be sweetened with honey instead of containing corn syrup, modified corn starch and artificial flavour like those marshmallows we buy.
Everywhere I turn there’s some plant to harvest and dry, or mash into a tincture. Like a mad scientist, I look forward to winter’s experiments: soap and salve making. Still there are pickles, corn, beans and peas to tuck away, and a greenhouse to finish building once these are processed.
This elusive summer may even dawn on us with temperatures in the high 20’s, driving some protein into cereal crops. But my greatest hope for this season is to learn; not how to struggle against cool conditions that delay the traditional European crops that we’ve come know as garden plants, but rather to embrace more of what chooses to volunteer itself every year, despite my warring against it.
If expensive seeds I order annually chose to naturalize here, that would be wonderful. But silly me: what if I had it backwards and those plants I’ve pulled for chicken feed actually nourish us best?