Gopher Gulch: Working hard all summer


Inez Castor

If you haven't worked yourself into the blind staggers yet, you're not really trying. There's the construction and destruction projects, the weatherizing and fuel storing, not to mention the time spent earning the funds necessary to pay for all this frantic activity.

Now and again I slip away for a local fair or festival, but I've kept my nose to the grindstone so well all summer that I barely have anywhere to perch my glasses.

And then while I was standing at the mailbox sorting bills from beggings, an over-ripe apple splatted to the ground beside me. It may as well have been a hand grenade dropped into a life that's already shrapnel. The impact shocked me into holding still to really look around. Not at the jobs that have been done or are making their way up the andquot;to-doandquot; list, but at the world as a whole.

Signs of the season

The first alder and cottonwood leaves are already falling. Fruit, veggies and herbs are getting ripe faster than they can be harvested. The tadpoles have lost their tails and become frogs, while the ravens are having trouble flying because they're in mid-molt and half their tail feathers are missing.

The 4-H kids have sold off the animals they raised, the stores are full of school supplies and just in case I didn't get the message, Beth blessed me with a huge bag of apples.

If I'm going to have chunky, cinnamon-flavored applesauce in February when I really need it, I have to spend at least one day peeling, chopping, cooking and canning.

Ordinarily I have a garden full of goodies, but this year has been spent building, repairing and tearing down. The yard has had to take care of itself except for a few days spent slashing back the jungle.

I push myself through the current project by promising the child within me that next summer she won't have to build or tear down a single thing. No shed walls or PVC towers will fall on her, and she won't have to use the dreaded screwdriver.

I promise the child that next summer, because she's been so diligent and virtuous this summer, she'll get to play in the dirt for the entire season. That carrot held out on the end of a stick keeps the child moving, but next summer is so far away.

The hot tub, while infinitely heavier than a carrot, is also considerably more effective on an old woman, and it's waiting for me at the end of every day filled with adult tasks and responsibilities.

The season's bounty

I'm grateful for friends that have gardens, orchards and/or husbands who fish. Thanks to them, I'm enjoying the bounty of the season. Supper last night was fresh green beans, onions, summer squash and the world's freshest fish, all seasoned with freshly picked dill and basil.

There are tomatoes ripening on the windowsill and a bag of apples waiting to be loved into sauce. It really doesn't get any better than this, and it's a great life if you don't weaken.

Reach Inez Castor, a long-time Triplicate columnist, at .

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