It's not just fall around here anymore. Our early fall was more like late summer - the warm temps and sunny days continued into September and early October. Because of this, the autumn foliage has been amazing and colorful. It's in full force right now and we're enjoying every minute of it. The weather has also taken a turn toward cold and rainy. Really cold, really rainy, and really dark. Deep fall, which feels more like winter, but still has the remaining colors of autumn.
Today we had a beautiful clear day, so we headed out to the back yard for garden cleanup and prep.
Jeff pulled the remaining tomato plants out of the beds (even harvesting a few last red tomatoes!) and I turned the soil over. The rains had saturated it so that it was easy to turn and aerate. There were worms wriggling around everywhere. We turned everything under and planted about 75 cloves of garlic from 6 different varieties. We planned where to build the next beds so that we'll have triple the garden space next year. Our ultimate goal is that the bulk of our vegetables come from our own back yard. Winter greens are being babied indoors for a few weeks, and will be sown outside soon. We're lucky that freezing temperatures aren't common around here, so hopefully our winter crops will survive and even flourish.
We let the chickens out into the yard to forage. They ran all over the place, finding worms and bugs and tomatoes to eat.
Sadly, due to the rapidly shortening days, we aren't getting any eggs right now. We could be lighting their coop to extend their laying time, but in their first year especially, I think it's important to follow their natural laying rhythms. We'll appreciate the bounty of eggs so much more when it returns in the late winter, once the days are longer again (one of many reasons to look forward to those days). Despite the lack of eggs, the chickens are still delightful. They're healthy and happy and fun to watch. When it's sunny, we let them out to forage and on the rainy days they stay in their covered coop/run even if I leave the door open for them to roam. I think they like the rain even less than I do.
The fall color is making its way indoors as well. We're bringing in leaves, pine cones, and seed pods that we find in the yard and discover on chilly walks through the neighborhood. Construction paper in shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown is in heavy use. We have planned our Thanksgiving menu and are readying the decorations for the feast table.
While part of me misses the lovely weather of Phoenix at this time of year - the perfect tems, the ripening lemons (oh, how I'll miss the lemons), the return to an outdoor lifestyle - I'm grateful to be back in the familiar rhythms of the Pacific NW. I missed the showy foliage, the fires in the hearth, the candles lit in late afternoon as the skies darken. I didn't miss the rain, but I'm more at peace with it now and I appreciate how it helps us turn inward to the comforts of home and family. I'm ready to settle in for the long winter.